13th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
SenatorFOLL. - Has the Leader of the Senate seen in this morning’s press the statement that there is a possibility of Australia’s trade with the East being injured as the result of competition from the new State, Manchukuo? Does not the Government feel that the time has arrived when Australia should have in the East an active trade commissioner who would watch the interests of our trade there?
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Senate been drawn to the following article which appeared in the Castlemaine Mail of the 1st instant : -
SACRIFICING AUSTRALIAN FARMERS.
Homage to the Dollar.
Records of political manoeuvring in recent years contain nothing more destructive than the conduct of the Federal Government in the matter of the suggestion to curtail this country’s wheat production. Early last week,the Australian Minister Resident in London was reported as having stated that such action was a policy of despair, andthe Prime Minister declared that there was no possibility of Australia’s decision against restriction of wheat production being reversed without the consent of the Ministry. Now comes the announcement that, when the State Premiers, or some of them, meet in Sydney to-day, the Commonwealth will put forward ascheme to restrict exports for two years.
Does the Government endorse those statements?
– I refer the honorable senator to thestatement on the wheat question that I made in the Senate yesterday.
– Is it a fact, as alleged in the Castlemaine M ail of the 4th instant, that the issue of income tax assessments was withheld on a large scale in order to keep down the federal surplus for the year ended the 30th June last? Is it correct that, but for this action, the surplus would have been £5,000,000?
– Like many statements concerning federal affairs that appear in the Castlemaine Mail from time to time, the statement to which the honorable senator has referred contains no truth whatsoever. The revenue received from income tax is approximately what was estimated, and the carry-over under existing conditions can only be regardedas normal.
SenatorDOOLEY.- If the Government declines to appoint to the Tariff Board an additional representative of the manufacturers and of the trade unionists of Australia, will it consider the advisability of changing the name of that body to “ Tariff Reduction Board “?
Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE.No.
– Is it the intention of the Government to restore to their former level the pensions of superannuated Commonwealth officers? What is the present state of the superannuation fund? Is the surplus in hand sufficient to permit the restoration of these pensions?
Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE.The honorable senator’s question obviously relates to policy, which it is not the practice to disclose in answerto questions. The matter may be properly raised when the budget is being discussed.
– Has the Leader of the Senate read in the Brisbane Daily Standard the statement that, on account of reductions in premiums and in the annual bonus distribution, since the 1st November, 1925, to fire-policy holders on prescribed risks, the amount saved to the insuring public by the Queensland State Insurance Office during the past seven years is well over £3,000,000 for fire insurance alone, and, in regard to workers’ compensation, that the office is able to take credit for having -
Can the right honorable gentleman hold out any prospect that the Commonwealth Government will take steps to give to the people of the other States the benefits of insurance publicly controlled?
– This matter relates exclusively to State politics, and has nothing whatever to do with the Commonwealth Government.
Wireless Equipment - Annual Overhaul
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
As a result of the appalling disaster to the collier Christina Fraser, whereby seventeen valuable lives have apparently been lost, and great grief and anxiety caused thereby, will the Government make the necessary provision in the Navigation Act to compel such seagoing vessels to be equipped with wireless, and provide that such vessels shall undergo periodical overhauls to ensure their seaworthiness ?
– The Minister for Commerce informs me that this matter is receiving consideration, and that a reply will be furnished to the honorable senator as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
Will he call for a return of the names of all sea-going vessels registered in Australia which are not equipped with wireless?
– The Minister for Commerce advises that a report in regard to this matter will be obtained.
Information Required from Australian Industries.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the representative or representatives of an Australian industry applying for or supporting applications to the Tariff Board for protective duties, have to furnish information andbe examined on oath in regard to the following questions: - (1)(a) What capital is employed.
(a) The value of output for each of the last three years.
– It is necessary for all applicants for tariff protection or increased tariff protection to furnish information to the Tariff Board along the lines indicated in the honorable senator’s question, and all relevant information which the Tariff Board considers essential to a complete review of the subject is required from Australian representatives of overseas manufacturers interested in the exportation of competitive goods to Australia. The detailed information required from both the Australian manufacturer and the importer is necessary for the Tariff Board, the Government, and Parliament to come to an accurate conclusion with respect to these requests.
Information will be obtained, and a reply will be furnished to Senator Dunn as early as possible, in regard to oil skin coats in the Royal Australian Naval Stores, Pyrmont, Sydney.
Lyon Brothers’ Experiments
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
Report of Mr. L. Buring
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
-The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answers: -
– I move -
That Statutory Rules 1933, No. 73, Regulations under the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1922-1932, be disallowed, and the matter be referred to the Public Service Arbitrator.
The regulation that I wish to disallow provides for the amendment of Public Service Regulation No. 97b. It proposes to reduce the Canberra allowance to the following extent: -
Married men, compulsorily transferred, from £20 to £13 per annum.
Single officers, compulsorily transferred, from £13 per annum to nothing.
Married men, compulsorily transferred, who married after the date of transfer, from £13 per annum to nothing.
Single officers residing in government hostels, who formerly received an allowance equal to 16 2-3rds per cent, of the amount of board paid by them, with a maximum of £26 per annum, to a fiat rate allowance of £13 per annum in lieu thereof.
The Canberra allowance was first granted to compulsorily transferred officers in 1927, and was mainly a cost of living allowance. This was definitely indicated by the preamble to the first regulation which made provision for the payment of the allowance. It read as follows : -
Whereas the special circumstances attending the transfer of departments to a newlyestablished city will necessarily involve at the outset additional expense to compulsorily transferred officers of those departments in relation to housing and living.
In Determination No. 33 of 1928, the then Public Service Arbitrator, Mr. Atlee Hunt, made this statement -
I must accept the formal statement of the board, whether made at the suggestion of the Government or otherwise, that the allowance” is to compensate for the extra cost of living necessarily attendant on life in a newly established city.
At that time the intention was - and it was publicly stated by the then Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) - to compensate officers for the additional expense incurred in their transfer to Canberra, the householders requiring many additional things, such as floor coverings and furniture.
The following is a comparison of the index figures - all-houses table - for Canberra and Melbourne, and the weighted average for the six capital cities for the twelve months ended the 31st March, 1933 :-
Canberra, 1,642; Melbourne, 1,347 i weighted average six capital cities, 1,377.
The index figure for Canberra is therefore 295 points, or 21.9 per cent, higher than that for Melbourne, and 265 points, or 19.2 per cent., higher than the weighted average for the six capital cities. The adult basic wage for the Commonwealth Public Service is £174 per annum, and the percentage difference between Melbourne and Canberra - 21.9 per cent. - applied to the basic wage, shows that a Canberra officer is at a disadvantage compared with a Melbourne officer to the extent of £38 per annum. Similarly, a comparison with the weighted average for the six capital cities shows that Canberra suffers a disadvantage of £33 per annum. The Arbitrator’s conclusions, as stated in Determination No. 1 of 1933, are as follow : -
These conclusions are in direct conflict with the long-established practice of granting the Canberra special allowance only to compulsorily transferred officers. That issue has previously been dealt with by my predecessor, as stated above, and his determination that it should be granted to all has been disapproved by Parliament. In face of that fact, and the definite statement by the representative of the Public Service Board, that it was the policy of the Government, (which, of course, has the backing of Parliament) to continue this principle until the Canberra special allowance is abolished on the 30th of June, 1934, I do not think it would be right for me to give a determination on the present application, which would be in direct conflict with the deliberately expressed will of Parliament. Moreover, the method of computing the allowance, if the suggestions now made be approved in principle, calls for careful consideration. The Public Service Board should bc afforded the opportunity of studying that aspect of the matter in order to arrive at a considered scheme. The data before me is not sufficient to justify my undertaking the task. In all the circumstances I think it wise to refuse the application as submitted in its present form. While I do so, I commend for early consideration by the Public Service Board the issue raised above as to the need of a special allowance to officers on low salaries to meet the definite higher cost of living in Canberra, which has been clearly demonstrated.
There are many anomalies in the conditions under which the public servants work in Canberra. A married man who was compulsorily transferred to Canberra receives a specific allowance, but a man who was single when originally transferred, but married afterwards, receives no allowance at all. As a result he is deprived of an allowance of, say £26 a year, because of his marriage. Surely that is not a reasonable policy for any government to adopt.
– The allowance was not taken away from such an officer, because he never received it.
– The position is that a young man who was compulsorily transferred to Canberra, and married afterwards, is handicapped to the extent of £26 per annum, compared with his neighbour who was married when transferred. I cannot imagine this Parliament countenancing an anomaly of that kind, because, after all, it is the policy of the Government and of the people generally to encourage our young people to marry and settle down. That is one of the glaring anomalies in the allowances made to the public servants at Canberra. The payment of special allowance in special districts is a practice followed in the Commonwealth Service. Public Service Regulation No. 101 makes provision for the payment of district allowances at isolated stations, or in places where, owing to their situation, the cost of living is excessively high. Canberra is definitely an artificial city, which has a particularly high cost of living because of its situation and lay-out. lt is a city of the future, built at the wish of the people of the Commonwealth to a definite plan of a garden city, and the excessive cost imposed on public servants living in Canberra at the wish of ‘‘the Commonwealth should reasonably be met by the people generally. To pay the same Canberra allowances as existed last year would cost the Government less than’ £9,000. The Public Service Arbitrator indicated in Determination No. 1 of 1933, that an allowance was justified to the lower paid members of the Commonwealth Public Service in Canberra, but, in view of the Government’s expressed intention to reduce the allowance in 1933 prior to its abolition in 1934, he refused to make a determination on tha merits of the evidence presented. Instead, he commended’ the matter to the Public Service Board for consideration.
The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce), when tabling this regulation, stated that the Commonwealth public servants escaped State taxation; but let me point out that in Canberra the rents are much higher than they are, say, in Melbourne, whence most of the public servants of Canberra came, and there are other expenses such as a hospital levy, which the people in other cities are not compelled to pay. The Arbitration Public Service Act, section 12, sub-section 1, provides that, subject to the provisions of the section, the Arbitrator shall determine all matters submitted to him relating to salaries, wages, rates of pay, or terms or conditions of service or employment of officers and employees of the Public Service. That is a definite statement respecting the functions of the Public Service Arbitrator. It seems strange that this regulation should have been tabled without the whole subject having been first inquired into by the Arbitrator. This is a matter with which every other honorable senator is just as much concerned as I am, because we all support the principle of meting out evenhanded justice, to a section of the community which is closer to this Parliament than any other section of the community in the Commonwealth. This is not a party matter. Honorable senators on both sides of the chamber know from their own observations that -there arc definite disabilities connected with residence in Canberra. The Public Service organizations have satisfied the Arbitrator that the lower paid officers are entitled to ‘be compensated for those disabilities, and I submit that the Parliament, as a matter of equity, should disallow the regulation, and instruct the Arbitrator to give a. judgment based on the weight of evidence before him, and then the matter could, with more reason and equity, be debated in the Parliament, to determine whether that judgment should be overruled. I submit that the only reason for overruling it would be inability on the part of the Commonwealth to meet the cost, which, however, should not exceed £10,000 for 1933-34, and, in view of the present buoyant position of the revenue, such a. reason could hardly be deemed sufficient.
I have before me a short personal statement which sets out the position of one public servant resident in Canberra. In 1928, his salary was £433 per annum, and in 1933 it was reduced to £324, a drop of more than 25 per cent.
– Of course, the honorable senator is including the Canberra allowance.
– Probably so. This man had a home built for him under the terms of the Housing Ordinance, an*d is paying principal and interest at the rate of £104 per annum. That reduces the salary available to him for general living purposes, to a little over £200 per annum, out of which he has to pay rates and taxes amounting to £15. Consequently, in 1932-33, he was left with only 17s. 6d. a week with which to clothe his wife and himself, and provide- both with a little literary and other recreation. If this regulation is given effect, that small weekly amount will be whittled down to 12s. 6d. Surely it is inadvisable for the Commonwealth Government to set the example of reducing its employees to a level lower than that which would be regarded as fair and reasonable by a tribunal charged with the task of fixing the standard of living for workers in other walks of life. The Commonwealth Arbitration Act, passed by this Federal Parliament, has been in operation for quite a long period, and under it many de cisions have been made, based principally upon cost of living. Only recently, a slightly different basis of calculation has been adopted which places employees on a slightly more favorable basis than previously. In common with other honorable senators, I am a strong supporter of the principle of arbitration, for it enables employees to submit their cases to a tribunal which, on the evidence submitted, arrives at a. determination which governs their conditions of work and payment. Surely it ‘is not too much to ask the Government to adhere to the policy which it has prescribed for private industry, of enabling employees with a grievance to air it before an accredited tribunal? If we permit this regulation to remain in force, the general public will believe that the Government is not prepared to act in accordance with the conditions which it makes compulsory upon private employers. 1 urge the Senate to adopt my motion, and give public servants an opportunity to place their case before the Public Service Arbitrator. If there is a valid reason why the Government should treat its employees more harshly than private enterprise deals with its workers, it is but fair that the general public should know it. I should not like to accuse the Government of being desirous of victimizing its employees; I am confident that it is not. However, these employees are entitled to state their case, .”just as, in similar circumstances, the members of my own union would be entitled to do. That is all that I ask. I should make no complaint if the judgment were adverse to the public servants concerned, and I know that they would loyally abide by it. Prom time to time, the decisions of arbitration courts are distasteful to employees, but invariably, they honour them loyally. I submit mr motion to the sympathetic consideration of the Senate.
[11.39]. - I am convinced that Senator Barnes - is confusing two entirely different issues, and, before proceeding to deal with the subject he has brought before the Senate, I shall try to make clear the difference between Public Service allowances generally, and the special
Canberra allowance. The Public Service Act provides for the giving of a special allowance to employees in certain districts or towns because of the climate, or for other reasons. Moreover, the Public Service Association may approach the Arbitrator to have such allowances granted, and it has frequently exercised that right. But a special allowance was given to those public servants who were compulsorily transferred from Melbourne to Canberra on the transfer of the Seat of . Government to the Federal Capital Territory. This Canberra allowance is quite distinct from the other kind of allowance. It was not provided by the Public Service Act, nor was it granted by the Public Service Board, and it is not a subject for arbitration. It has been paid in accordance with aregulation made by the Government of the day to meet the special circumstances arising out of the transfer of public servants to Canberra.
If honorable senators are to give a considered judgment on this matter, they must keep those two allowances separate and distinct in their minds. Unfortunately, Senator Barnes has not done so. The effect of the motion, if carried, would be that an appeal would be made to the Public Service Arbitrator against the special Canberra allowance which has been diminishing gradually each year. Exception has not. previously been taken to this; but now, in the last year of the operation of the Canberra allowance, it is argued that the matter should be referred to the Public Service Arbitrator: If there is any good reason why that should be done, the matter should have been referred to the Arbitrator years ago. Surely it is too late to act now, when the allowance is about to disappear? The motion, if carried, will not refer to the Arbitrator the question whether public servants living in Canberra are entitled to a special allowance because the cost of living is higher in the Federal Capital than in other centres; it would merely disallow the regulation which provides for the Canberra allowance.
Some years ago, the Public Service Association applied to the Public Service Arbitrator for a special allowance to the public servants in Canberra, similar to that which is paid to public servants in other centres where peculiar disadvantages are suffered, and the arbitrator gave a decision which granted such an allowance. The Government of the day moved in the Senate for the disallowance of the decision, advancing reasons which I shall recapitulate. The present motion does not touch upon that issue. If it did, the Senate would be asked to stultify itself, because already the Senate has decided by a large majority that it does not favour a special allowance for Canberra in the ordinary Public Service sense of the term. The regulation which Senator Barnes is asking us to repeal provides for a special Canberra allowance, the history of which is as follows: - The original regulations gave married men £39 and single men £26 a year, applying to all compulsorily transferred officers.
SenatorSampson. - Irrespective of salary?
– Yes. There was also a board allowance of 25 per cent. of the charges for board, with a maximum of £39. The amendment of 1932 reduced the allowance for married men from £39 to £26, and for single men from £26 to £13, while the board allowance was reduced from 25 per cent. to 162/3 per cent. of the board paid, with a maximum of £26. That reduction has been in operation for more thana year, but honorable senators have taken no action to challenge it. The amendment of 1933, which now operates, reduced the allowance of married officers from £26 a year to £13, and that of single officers was cut out altogether, while the board allowance was made a flat rate of £13 a year. That is the history of this allowance, and it shows what an inextricable mess we should get into if we repealed this latest regulation, and referred the matter once more to the Arbitrator.
I desire to explain to honorable senators the reason for the different treatment meted out to various classes of public servants with respect to the allowance. By a decision of the Government, endorsed by the Parliament, public servants employed in the central administrative offices in Melbourne were, as an act of policy, compulsorily transferred to Canberra. In the ordinary way, if a public servant is transferred from Melbourne to
Broken Hill, for instance, he has the right to appeal against the transfer, and to give reasons why, in his opinion, he should not be transferred. Those officers who were transferred from Melbourne to Canberra, however, had no right of appeal. Honorable senators will see, therefore, that there is a great difference between compulsory - transfers made in accordance with an act of government policy, and the ordinary transfers that take place every day, when officers are transferred from one State to another. Moreover, the ordinary public servant employed, for instance, in the post office, while enjoying many advantages, knows that one of the disadvantages of his occupation is his liability to be trans’ferred to distant parts of the Commonwealth. If he is a telegraphist or postal officer, he is always subject to be transferred from one State to another. In such cases transfers are normal; but, in the case of the administrative officers transferred from Melbourne to Canberra, the transfer was not normal. Those engaged in the central administration knew that their duties would keep them at the seat of government, and the seat of government, as laid down in the Constitution, was Melbourne. In the ordinary course of events, those officers would not have- been subject to transfer. In view of that they established their homes, and many of them had spent all their lives in Melbourne up to the time of transfer. Then Parliament, in pursuance of its policy, uprooted the departments, transferred them bodily to Canberra, and compelled the officers to follow or to get out of the Service. Many of them did get out, preferring to resign rather than leave Melbourne. . The Government believed that, having regard to the circumstances, special consideration was due to these officers. In this connexion, the preamble to the regulation passed at the time should be noted, because it indicates what the government of the day had in mind, and that has an important bearing on the matter of the Canberra allowance. The preamble is as follows: -
Whereas the special circumstances attending the transfer of departments to a newlyestablished city will necessarily involve, at the outset, additional expense; to compulsorilytransferred officers’ of those departments in relation to housing- ami living.
And whereas it is expedient that officers transferred to Canberra in these special circumstances should receive, special allowances.
That makes it quite clear that the allowance was special and temporary, and was to be operative at the outset only, it being recognized that the time would come when the conditions under which it was’ paid Would pass away.
– Was provision made at that time for the gradual reduction of the allowance ?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.No. With the exception of those officers who reside at government-controlled boarding-houses, payment of the allowance has been confined to officers who were compulsorily transferred. Officers brought from Sydney to the central administrative offices were not paid the Canberra allowance, because theirs was an ordinary transfer, and they had the right of appeal against it. Since 1927, when the allowance was granted, the circumstances of residence in Canberra have materially changed to the advantage of the public servants, and, consequently, alterations have been made varying the allowance. The regulation was amended in July, 1932, reducing by 33^ per cent, the allowance then paid. At that time it was stated that a further reduction of 33$ per cent, would be made from the 1st July, 1933, and that twelve months later the allowance would cease. No protest came from the Opposition against the reduction, or against the prospect of the total abolition of the allowance in the future. In 1928, a claim was made to the then Public Service Arbitrator, Mr. Atlee Hunt, for an allowance to be granted to all public servants in Canberra, whether compulsorily transferred or not. Upon this claim the Arbitrator made a determination for the payment of an allowance to all public servants resident in Canberra. Parliament disallowed the determination, thus confirming the view that the allowance should not be paid to other than compulsorily transferred officers. If honorable senators are interested to know why that course was followed, they may turn up Hansard of the 20th February, 1929, from page 349 onwards, and there they will see the reasons clearly set out.
The regulation! now before Parliament contains nothing contrary to the view then taken by Parliament. It merely reduces the allowance at present paid to compulsorily transferred officers, and provides for its discontinuance at the end of the present year. The effect of the disallowance of the regulation would be to ona1.. le compulsorily transferred officers to continue to enjoy a privilege which has not been extended to those who have voluntarily taken up service in Canberra. In this connexion, it is interesting to note the remarks of the present Public Service Arbitrator upon a further claim made last year by public service organizations for payment of an allowance to all officers resident in Canberra. Some honorable senators seem to be under the impression that the public servants have been denied the right to approach the Public Service Arbitrator, but that is not. so, because’, on two occasions, representations have been made to the Arbitrator. In response to the first application, the Arbitrator made a determination which was disallowed, and in response to the second, he refused to give a determination. In bis judgment on the latest claim referred to him, he stated - . . Canberra in .19:43 in a very different city in many ways from Canberra in 1928. It “has settled down to an established order of city life; the phase of a “newly-established city “’ has definitely passed. The normal daytoday requirements of the people are provided for in the same way as in other centres; there is practically nothing in the nature of makeshifts. Water supply, lighting, and sewerage were provided before the early days after the transfer, and many other improvements have since been added. The streets and grounds of both official and private buildings have been beautified by gardens and trees, churches, schools, and halls for entertainments and social purposes Iia ve been built, which are, in many instances, more than adequate for the population; shopping facilities and transport services have been organized. Sports and athletics are well provided for, the swimming pool being a notable recent addition.
In a later portion of his judgment, ha said -
The pecuniary advantages enjoyed by Commonwealth public servants resident in Canberra in respect of immunity from State taxation is more than sufficient to off-set tlie “additional expenditure” as per (1.) except in the case of officers in receipt of low salar ic?. The discrimination between officers rami Pulsorily transferred and those otherwise transferred or promoted, or ‘who have been appointed in Canberra, is not justified under present-day conditions and should be discontinued.
That is the opinion of the Public Service Arbitrator on the very matter we are now discussing..
When I was replying to a remark by Senator Sampson some days ago, I made a mistake in regard to the taxation which public servants are called upon to pay. I said that residents of Canberra were exempt from State taxation, and to that extent public servants living here enjoyed an advantage over public servants stationed, say, at Queanbeyan. I pointed out that residents of New South Wales were called upon to pay an unemployment tax of ls. in the pound, and that this was paid by public servants in Queanbeyan, while those in Canberra escaped it. I forgot, when I spoke, that, under a section of the Commonwealth Financial Emergency Act, Commonwealth public servants are not liable to special State taxation without the approval of the Commonwealth Government. When the New South Wales unemployment tax was imposed) the then Commonwealth Government would not allow it to become operative in its full incidence against Commonwealth public servants, but agreed that they should pay 6d. in the £1 instead of ls. Therefore, a postman in Queanbeyan pays 6d. in the £1 unemployment tax, while one in Canberra pays no unemployment tax at all.
The Arbitrator made no determination in the claim which was last brought before him. He referred to the fact that his predecessor’s determination had been disapproved by Parliament, and he believed that it would not be right for him to give a determination which would be in conflict with the deliberately expressed will of Parliament. He suggested that the question of granting an allowance to all officers on low salaries was deserving of special consideration, and that the Public Service Board should be given the opportunity of studying that aspect of the matter in order to arrive at a considered decision. The views expressed by the arbitrator have been the subject of report by the Public Service Board. That report was considered by the Government whose decision is expressed in the regulation. Under its provisions, at the end of the present year there will be no differentiation between compulsorily transferred officers and others, and the regulations will then, in this respect, support the view expressed by the arbitrator.
Referencehas been made by Senator Barnes- and it is always being made by those who press for a special allowance for public servants in Canberra - to the Statistician’s figures as indicating a higher cost of living in Canberra. In so far as these figures should be taken into consideration in regard to the matter under discussion, it must be observed that there is much less difference between the figures for Sydney and Canberra than there is between those for Sydney and Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide, or Sydney and Perth. Yet the argument is not advanced that there should be a differential living.allowance between Sydney and Perth. If Ave are to concede such an allowance for Canberra, why not for Adelaide and Perth? We cannot settle this question merely by granting an allowance to officers in Canberra. If discrimination is to be shown in regard to the salaries solely of these public servants, because of a differencein the cost of living figures, similar distinction should be made between public servants in every capital city. The Public Service Regulations recognize that there are factors which should be considered as justifying a special allowance in the form of a district allowance. They prescribe that allowances may be paid to officers living in localities where the climatic conditions are severe, or at isolated stations, or in places where, owing to their situation, the cost of living is exceptionally high. Let us apply any one of those three tests to Canberra. The climate of this city is as fine as that in any part of Australia.
SenatorCollings. - But grocers’ bills cannot be paid with climate.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.I expected a response of that nature. Can anybody say that the cost of living is exceptionally high in Canberra?
SenatorO’Halloran. - It is 20 per cent. higher than in any other. Australian city.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Is Canberra isolated in the same sense as places like Bourke, Cobar, and Wil- cannia in New South Wales; Jericho, Cloncurry and Cairns in Queensland; Maree, Cook, Alice Springs and the Katherine in South, Central and Northern Australia; Coolgardie, Cue, Broome, and Marble Bar in Western Australia ; or Zeehan in Tasmania ? There can be no comparison between the conditions of residence at such localities and those at Canberra.
Let me give a case in point. A married officer stationed atWentworth, New South Wales, receives an allowance of £20 per annum, and if at Cobar, New South Wales, he is paid an allowance of £30 per annum. If at Jericho or Cairns, in Queensland, the allowance amounts to £30 or £40 per annum. In these instances will be found isolation, severe climatic conditions, or high cost of living, or two, or even three, of those conditions combined. If we disallow the regulation under discussion, we shall say, in effect, that the conditions of living at Canberra are worse than those at Wentworth, in New South Wales, and that they are on an equality with those at Cobar, Bourke, or Jericho, or that living in Canberra is little more tolerable than at Cairns, in Queensland. Either that would be indicated, or, if a special allowance is to be granted to officers residing in Canberra, the allowance at the remote places which I have mentioned should be considerably increased, and an allowance paid where none is given at the present time. Even when circumstances of residence at Canberra are contrasted with those at the adjacent towns in New South Wales, of Queanbeyan, Yass, and Cooma, or, going a little further afield, those of Dubbo, Forbes and Narrandera, are the conditions in Canberra worse than those at the places which I have mentioned? Should we pay a special allowance to officers residing in Canberra, and not to those in Queanbeyan and Yass ? We have only to consider that aspect of the matter to realize what we should be committing ourselves to by granting a special allowance to Canberra public servants.
Turning to the position ofthe single officer, whether male or female, boarding in Canberra, there seems to be misconception on the part of some honorable senators in regard to the discontinuance of the allowance to certain married officers, while single men living at government hotels or boarding-houses continue to draw the allowance. There are two forms of allowance - that granted to compulsorily transferred officers, more as a disability allowance, and payable whether they maintain homes. or board, and that granted to officers, whether compulsorily transferred or not, who reside at one of the government establishments in Canberra. It is true that, in regard to the latter class, a sort of Canberra allowance is paid, but this is due to special circumstances. Honorable senators know that the conditions in this city do not apply to any other city, because in the State capitals there are hotels and boarding houses where cheap accommodation can be obtained, while in Canberra a single man is practically compelled to stay at one of the hotels, which are not exactly the class of establishment at which he would board if in Melbourne, Perth or Hobart. The cost of conducting the Government boarding establishments is fairly high, and, because of that, an allowance has been paid to the single officers.
Senator Sampson mentioned another matter. As regards the disability allowance to compulsorily transferred officers, a distinction was made between married and single officers, and an officer who married subsequent to his transfer continued to receive the original allowance granted him - that of the unmarried officer. An officer who married after transfer to Canberra, and set up >a home here for the first time, did not suffer the same disability as the officer who, by reason of the removal of his department, had to uproot his home in Melbourne, and come to Canberra, perhaps leaving portion of his family behind. The officer marrying subsequent to Transfer, continues, for the purpose of the regulation, to be treated as a single officer. Honorable senators who come from Victoria know numbers of cases in which, for educational reasons, parents had to leave some of their children behind in Melbourne, and were put to additional expense in maintaining them away from their homes. Therefore, there is a difference between an officer who was married at the time of his transfer and an officer who married after he was transferred.
Reference has been made to inequalities in that officers who married subsequent to transfer to Canberra are losing the allowance from the 30th June, while single men are granted it. If the allowance were continued to the officers who married after transfer, there would be a greater inequality, in that such officers would receive an allowance denied all the married officers coming to Canberra in the ordinary course, and not being compulsorily transferred with departments. If we tried to avoid what Senator Sampson regards as an inconsistency, we should create another inconsistency, in that an officer who came here and married afterwards would be eligible for the allowance, whereas a married postal official transferred from, say, Crookwell to Canberra, would not receive it. It is difficult, therefore, to see why an officer who married after coming to Canberra should receive special preferential treatment. But the boarding allowance is not paid merely to compulsorily transferred officers; it is granted to any officer residing at a government boarding establishment. It will be paid for this year only, and before the end of the current year the Government intends to review it, because the boarding conditions in Canberra are changing. It is becoming possible, and we think that it will be more possible in the future, for single officers to get accommodation at private hotels, some of which have reduced their charges, or at private boarding houses. When that happens, this allowance also will be discontinued. If, in the light of these facts, we were to repeal this regulation, and refer the matter back to the Public Service Arbitrator, we should be stultifying the previous vote of the Senate. Moreover, what should we be referring back? Not the question of the general cost of living, but that of a special allowance to those officers who were compulsorily transferred. Surely we can regard that matter as already settled, and let the allowance expire at the end of this year.
– Has the Government considered whether this chamber can do anything, except either allow or disallow the regulation? That seems to me to be the limit of our powers.
– If we disallowed it, we should be restoring the special Canberra allowance to that section of the Public Service that was compulsorily transferred. I do not know whether the Leader of the Opposition realizes that. If this regulation were disallowed, it would not establish a general Canberra allowance, but would only restore the allowance of £39 a year to married officers, and £26 a year to single men, who have been compulsorily transferred.
– Even that would be an achievement.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.It certainly would be, but not an accomplishment of which the Senate would have good reason to be proud.
– I have listened attentively to the Minister’s remarks, but I am. not satisfied with the c’aBe that be has presented. I hope that this statutory rule will be disallowed. The Minister has remarked that a large number of officers had to be transferred to Canberra at the time when Parliament, in its wisdom, and at the request of the people, decided to remove the seat of government from Melbourne to Canberra. It was obvious that a certain number of members of the Public Service would have to be transferred compulsorily, and the Government decided at the outset that a cost of living allowance should be granted to those who were transferred. The Government also provided means of transport for officers and their families, as well as for their furniture and other belongings, and even purchased their Melbourne houses in those instances in which the owners were unable to effect private sales. It was said that that was done because the officers were being transferred to a newly-established city, and I think that everybody thought at that time that all the public servants attached to the Central Administration would be transferred to Canberra. Had that policy been carried out in its entirety, Canberra would have been a much larger city than it is to-day, and the residents would have enjoyed greater conveniences than they now have. I much doubt whether the conveniences provided for the majority of the public servants in Canberra are much better now than they were at the time of transfer. The cost of living has always been considerably higher here than in other cities.
I have listened carefully to what the Minister said concerning the special Canberra allowance, and also about the district allowance that is granted under the Public Service Regulations. Although the question now before the Senate has nothing to do with the district allowance, which, in my opinion, should still be considered by the Public Service Arbitrator, When dealing with district allowances, as set out in regulation 101 of Statutory Rules, No. 212, issued in 1926, we must not forget that there was an application to the Public Service Arbitrator early this year. I have read the Arbitrator’s determination carefully, and I have been forced to the conclusion that he is definitely of the opinion that some district allowance should be made to officers residing in Canberra.
– This motion does not touch that aspect of the matter.
– That is so; but the two things are related. If a special district allowance is justified in the case of public servants generally at Canberra, it should apply specially to those who were compulsorily transferred here. If the Arbitrator says that every public servant in Canberra should have a district allowance - I know that he does not say that definitely, although the inference cannot be evaded - then, obviously, the greater must include the less.
– The present Arbitrator did not say that.
– I am referring to a determination laid on the table on the 7th March, 1933, in which it was stated, on page 25 -
The cost of living in Canberra, considered solus, is so much higher than the highest index figure of the six capital cities as to warrant some allowance to meet the “additional expenditure” involved.
– The Arbitrator went on to say that, in the case of the higher paid officers, that was compensated for by their not having to pay State taxes.
– I am- not’ so concerned with the higher officials as with those on the breadline. The Minister says that the people of Canberra enjoy most of the amenities of city life. Let us see if that is so. The greatest burden on the family man living in Canberra is that of rent. A public servant living in Canberra cannot remove to another house of a lower status than the one he is in, because no such house is available. The position, therefore, is that a man who suffers a material reduction of his salary must reduce his expenditure in other directions than in the payment of rent. Many public servants in Canberra would transfer to cheaper houses if they could find them. The Minister endeavoured to compare Canberra with Queanbeyan and Cairns. I submit that those places cannot be compared with “Canberra. If the whole of the Public Service were transferred to Queanbeyan, the same position would be created us now exists in Canberra, A few people transferred from one city to another soon become absorbed in the general community, but the position is entirely different when a large number of people are transferred- to a new city. A public servant compulsorily transferred to Canberra had to break up his home, and take with him his family or as many members of it as possible. What are the public servants here to do with their children when they grow up? There are practically no avenues of employment for them here. I say that, in the interests of the people’ who were forced to come here, this regulation should be disallowed. The nation decided to establish a federal capital city, and it must be prepared to pay something for that ideal. It is not a question of paying something to Queanbeyan, for the people as a whole know nothing of Queanbeyan. It is wrong to say that those of our citizens who have been compulsorily transferred from Melbourne shall receive no compensation. For many years I have been associated with a number of business enterprises, and I say definitely that the responsible public servants whom I have met could worthily fill any position in the Commonwealth. They are men of outstanding ability - a loyal body of officers. The men and women in the Public Service should be given all the encouragement possible, particular^ since they were forced to come here. It is idle to say that officers of the Public Service are not forced to come to Canberra when their department is transferred here. In these difficult times what other employment could they find ? These officers have no option but to transfer with their departments. I am strongly in favour of this regulation being disallowed.
.- Like Senator Millen, I listened most attentively to what the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) had to say ou this matter. Apart from acquainting some of us with a number of technical details with which we were not familiar, he did nothing but give his own case away. I do not think that I am unfairly criticizing the right honorable gentleman’s speech when I describe it as a bit of clever special pleading, which will not stand analysis if judged on standards of equity and justice. The right honorable gentleman said that honorable senators who would support the motion could not know to what they were committing themselves. He said that if we granted this concession to one section of public servants, we must, in order to be consistent, grant it to other sections also. We on this side of the chamber are perfectly prepared to accept that position. We do not believe that any public servant, or for that matter, any other person in the community who has to work for his livelihood, should be given other than a fair deal. We will support any proposal to improve the condition of any . section of the workers - and in the term “ workers “ I include public servants. The Minister asked us to compare the conditions at Canberra with those at a number of other centres which he mentioned. I noticed that he was particularly careful to select places in each State in which life is not generally considered to be so pleasant as in some other places. He referred to Jericho and Cloncurry in Queensland. I know those places’ well, and there is nothing particularly wrong with them. If we were to read the thermometer at either place in the middle of summer, we should probably conclude that the weather was extremely hot and unpleasant, but 110 degrees at Jericho, which is not unusual, is perfectly enjoyable weather. The atmosphere is so dry that no inconvenience is caused by the great heat. Although I do not myself drink beer, I am informed that the beer sold at Jericho is drawn off the ice, so that those who like a cool beverage have no reason to complain. The climatic conditions at Cloncurry are not com.parable with those at Canberra. Th, Minister referred to the cost of living in Jericho and Cloncurry. I remind him that ; wise Labour Government in Queensland has not left such things to chance. Queensland has a price-fixing commissioner who determines what the retail price of the necessaries of life shall be. Because of that control of prices in Queensland, a comparison of the cost of living there with the cost in Canberra, is not possible; for here prices are not regulated. I am not in any way suggesting that Canberra is not a desirable place in which to live - honorable senators know that I like Canberra - but I disagree with the suggestion that, because Canberra has a congenial climate and beautiful surroundings, in which people can live in decency and dignity, the people who were compulsorily brought here should not be given the opportunity to rise above the rotten economic pit in which many of the inhabitants of our cities are forced to live. We on this side know to what we are committing ourselves when we support. the motion now before the Senate. In tinkering with the regulations, and in whittling away the privileges of the Public ‘Service in Canberra, the Government is treating the inhabitants of this city merely as cogs in a machine, or, perhaps, as animals not worthy of a great deal of consideration. The Government, appears to forget that it is dealing with men and women and little children - human beings with lives to live, and souls to be saved or’ damned, as the case may be.
– How many officers are involved?
– I am ashamed of the honorable senator’s interjection. It does not matter if only six officers are involved. An injustice to six public servants is an injustice also to their wives and “ kiddies “, and, so far as I am concerned, the fight on their behalf is well worth while. Even if only as a gesture to the workers as a whole, it is worth while to attempt to improve the conditions of these people.
– How does the honorable senator reconcile his belief in Canberra as a great ideal with his plea for the special treatment of those who live here?
– If Senator Brennan thinks that he has put a poser to me, he is mistaken, for he has done nothing of the kind. I regard it as a privilege to do what I can to make the conditions of the people of Canberra a little better, and I do not care whether only six people are involved.
So far, 1 have dealt with ideals; let me now put before the Senate the breadandbutter side of the question. We brought the public servants here. I do not sympathize with public servants on the ground that they were compulsorily transferred to Canberra - because public servants have a security in their jobs which most of the people whom we on this side of the chamber represent have not - but because they were brought here at a certain salary to which was added a special allowance which is now to be taken away from them despite their commitments. I know many (public servants, who, on coming to Canberra, were so impressed with the* splendid possibilities of what life here might mean to them that they contracted to build or purchase homes. But they undertook that responsibility at a time when their salaries werefixed at a certain amount, and when thefull allowance was also paid. Prom that. date until now, however, this Government has been steadily and studiously engaged in the nefarious job of reducing: those salaries and the allowance, thusmaking it more and more difficult for thepublic servants to stand up to their liabilities. What is the Government to do. with the public servant mentioned by theLeader of the Opposition (Senator- Barnes), who was receiving £400 odd a year when he came to Canberra, and isnow in receipt of £300 odd a year ? That officer can, of course, dispense with someof his responsibilities by being less considerate to his wife and children. Hecan, for instance, tell his wife that onedress will have to last two years- instead? of one, he can decide to go to has office- more shabbily dressed, and he can dispense with the annual holiday to the seaside he was formerly accustomed to have. By such means can his expenditure be reduced. But I suggest that it is cowardly to insist on this; in this beautiful capital city, it is particularly unjust to interfere with the rights of only one section of the community over which this Parliament has complete control, by continually reducing its standard of living, human decency and dignity. We on thi3 side of the chamber object to that.
One of the things that impress ^visitors to Canberra for the first time, who aretaken around the city by representatives of tourist agencies, or by some of us who take pride in this place, is the excellent standard ‘of the homes to be seen. What are we to do with those who erected homes, and who are meeting the capital and interest costs? Are we to make it harder and harder for them to adhere to their contracts? What is the position of public servants, particularly the older men, some of whom have perhaps ten years, or an even shorter period, to serve before they reach the retiring age? Cannot honorable senators see the prospect that is held out to them? I suggest that the Government would be doing - I was going to say a gracious act, but that would be a wrong term to use–an act of bare justice in assisting those who are supporting the motion to achieve what is desired ; it would be doing something in conformity with what should be done in this capital city. It would be helping to make life what it should be here, and by making a valuable contribution to the general progress of the citizens of . Canberra, would be setting an example to other governments in Australia. In the interests of the public servants whom we directly control, we should honestly endeavour to build up rather than to pull down. We should make life not harder but easier for our public servants, so long as they honorably fulfil the conditions of service to which they have been called. I trust that the motion will be carried, and, if it is, it will be something in which this Senate can take pride. Even those honorable senators who may feel inclined to oppose the motion, should change their opinion. If they do, they will feel that they have done something of which they need not be ashamed.
: - Listening to the speech of Senator Collings, I began, to wonder what life in Canberra really is. Ever since the honorable senator has been a member of this chamber, he has been sounding the praises of this beautiful capital city by dilating upon its scenery and its excellent climate. In fact, he has pictured Canberra as an earthly paradise. Now he finds that, after all, it is not a paradise, for he says that every man, woman and child in Canberra is suffering the tortures of the damned through having to reside here.
– I did not say that.
– I am not more concerned with the position of public servants in Canberra than I am with the position of public servants in my own State. They have no right to claim for themselves something over and above what is available to public , servants, say, in Queensland.
– Why not?
– I shall tell the honorable senator. The mere fact that public servants resident in Canberra are able to get the ears of Ministers and members of Parliament, by virtue of being on the spot, does not give them any right to claim greater benefits than are available to their fellow public servants in Queensland or in any other State.
– No public servants have approached me on the matter.
– I did not mean to suggest that they had. I contend that there should be equality of treatment throughout the whole of the Commonwealth Public Service. Privileges should not be afforded to one section of the public servants who reside here, and are able to air their grievances, and be withheld from other Commonwealth public servants inQueensland, or in any of the other States. Senator Collings spoke of his own experience, and I can speak of my experience as a former State public servant. I know that, in some instances, public servants- who have been in close touch with Ministers, members of Parliament or heads of departments, have derived advantages which are not available to others not’ so fortunately placed. What is the actual position of those public servants who were compulsorily transferred to Canberra compared with some public officers in Queensland? I venture to suggest that there are scores carrying out arduous work in remote parts of the Commonwealth who would willingly change places with those resident in Canberra - the earthly paradise mentioned by Senator Collings. That honorable senator referred to places such as Cloncurry. I admit that the climate in such towns’ is not as severe as some would imagine, although it is particularly trying in drought periods when the dust, heat, and flies are bad, and there is also a scarcity of water. Such conditions do exist, and life in such part’s cannot be favorably compared to that in Canberra. Fair play is bonny play, and public servants living in remote parts of Queensland should have the same advantages as those resident in the Federal Capital Territory.
– Let us first lift the public servants here, and set an example.
– The honorable senator frequently refers to the necessity for improving the conditions of humanity. The honorable senator has not a monopoly of a desire in that direction. One would imagine to hear him speak that he is the only champion of the “under dog”. Is there an honorable senator, who, if it were possible, would not support an increase of wages, not only for public servants, but also for every worker in this Country? But under present conditions that is not possible. Many things which we favour are at present quite impracticable. I remind Senator Collings that it was a Labour Government which inaugurated the Premiers plan under which public servants’ salaries throughout the Commonwealth were reduced. Honorable senators opposite would have us and the people outside believe - for after all, the speeches delivered in this or any other legislative chamber are for the benefit of those outside - that they alone are desirous of assisting those engaged in carrying on the Commonwealth Public Service, and the work of the country generally. The party to which I belong is not ashamed of its treatment of public, servants. During the time I have been a member of this chamber, I have seen numerous reforms placed upon the statute-book for the purpose of making easier the lot of public servants, and also those engaged in industry. It was a Nationalist Got vernment which brought a Common-‘ wealth superannuation scheme into existence, and which appointed the Public Service Arbitrator before whom the claims of public servants can be heard.
– I ask the honorable senator not to discuss that phase of the subject at length.
-Where is the justice of the claim made by Senator Collings and others that they are the only persons endeavouring to protect the right’s of public servants? Many of those engaged in carrying on the work of the Commonwealth in the postal department or in other branches of the Public Service in the outback parts of Queensland would willingly exchange places with officers who have been transferred to Canberra. I intend to oppose this motion, because if it were carried it would give an advantage to some which is not enjoyed by others.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– The principle at stake is whether public servants living in Canberra are to be treated on a different basis from Commonwealth public servants living in other capital cities, to the extent that a permanently higher allowance is to be made to them. I admit that they have to suffer certain disabilities, but, on the other hand, in Canberra, advantages are enjoyed that are not available to public servants in other centres of population. The right honorable the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) mentioned one, namely, the relief from certain forms of State taxation which have to be paid by Commonwealth public servants in the capital cities of the States. I also doubt that residence in Canberra necessarily entails greater disadvantages than residence in many distant centres of population. Senator Millen mentioned, apparently as one reason why the Senate should disallow this regulation, the fact that public servants compulsorily transferred to Canberra experience difficulty in finding employment for members of their families when these reach the age when employment must be found forthem. But
Canberra is not alone in that respect. Officers of the State railway departments, postal officials, school teachers and bank managers are ‘all subject to the same disability when transferred for duty to outlying centres of population. Consequently, it would be unfair to disallow the regulation merely because of this disability since, as I have shown, it is shared by all public servants and others living remote from centres of population.
– I do not intend to occupy the time of the Senate for long, because I consider that the case presented by Senator .Barnes for the disallowance of the regulation has not been, and cannot be, refuted by the Government. I agree with Senator Collings that the speech of the right honorable the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) was something in the nature of a political dirge. Senator Foll, speaking in support of the Government, mentioned the disabilities suffered by public servants living in Darwin, Cloncurry, Selwyn, and a number of other remote centres, and suggested that to carry the motion would be to establish a precedent for the payment of special allowances to Commonwealth public servants living in such places. The Leader of the Senate spoke approvingly of the climate of Canberra, the beauty of its environment, and urged that the provision by the Government of all those facilities which go to make up a garden city should be regarded as reasons why there should be no check to this Government’s policy of whittling down the allowances hitherto paid to Commonwealth public servants living in this city. The complete transference of the whole of the central administration to Canberra would meet with the approbation of every honorable senator irrespective of his political views, and the sooner this Government or a future administration gets on with the business, the better it will be for the capital city and all transferred public servants, because provision has been made here for the establishment of industrial enterprises, which are not likely to be undertaken until the permanent settlement of a larger population justifies the expenditure. In view of the fact that the people of Australia are being drawn -closer and closer to the ideal of unifica tion, it seems to me that the development of Canberra is not being kept in its proper perspective. Those public servants who have been transferred may be enjoying conveniences which are not available to residents in other centres of population, but they are, nevertheless, pioneers in the making of a new city and, as such, are entitled to every consideration. For this reason, I’ do not attach much importance to the special pleading of the Leader of the Senate. A few months ago I saw a picture, featuring Douglas Fairbanks, entitled, “ Around the world in 80 minutes “. This morning, when replying to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes), the right honorable gentleman went around Australia in 30 minutes in his attempt to justify all that the Government has done to cut down allowances paid to public servants, living in Canberra. The Public Service Arbitrator has declared that, in adjusting Commonwealth salaries in accordance with the cost-of-living variation, the weighted average figure for the six capital cities is the measuring point. Therefore, it , was considered reasonable to use that figure in measuring the detriment to an officer resident in Canberra. The Leader of the Senate argued that, because public servants living in Canberra are not subject to State taxation, objection should not be taken to the ‘ reduction of the Canberra allowance. He paid no regard to the fact that the higher cost of living in Canberra offset any advantage which they might enjoy through avoiding certain forms of State taxation. I have been a member of the House Committee for the last four years, and I know that the cost of foodstuffs and other commodities required for the parliamentary refreshment-rooms is from 50 per cent, to 60 per cent, higher than in other capital cities. The Public Service Arbitrator, in his determination, made this statement -
The system of salary fixation in the Com* monwealth Public Service is founded upon the concept of a uniform basic wage, which is determined on the weighted average index figures for the six’ capital cities. The comparison of Canberra in respect to cost of living should, therefore, be made with that base as a starting point.
The Commonwealth Statistician’s figures are quoted extensively by legal and trade union advocates when arguing cases before the industrial tribunals, and awards are based on those figures, which are accepted as a measure to determine the purchasing power of the basic wage. As an old trade unionist, and one who has argued the claims of fellow unionists in every capital city of the Commonwealth, the Leader of the Senate mustknow that public servants living in Canberra occupy a unique position, in that they have no mouthpiece to argue their case before the recognized industrial tribunals. Senator Foll endeavoured to create the impression that their position was safeguarded because, so he said, they were able to approach members of the Senate or another place and have their grievances ventilated in this Parliament. 1 have not been approached in connexion with this matter by any member of the Public Service during the last six weeks.
In order to place the allowance on a permanent basis, Public Service organizations recently submitted the question to the Public Service Arbitrator. During the hearing of the case, the advocates of the board announced that the Government intended to reduce the allowance as from the 1st July, 1933, and to cancel it altogether as from the 1st July, 1934. In view of this statement the Arbitrator refrained from giving an award, for fear of running counter to government policy. Because of that fear he refrained from making an award on the merits of the case. It would have been far better had he determined the matter solely on the evidence submitted to him, and left it to the Government to use the provisions of the Public Service Act to have the determination disallowed by Parliament if the Government considered ‘ the award ran counter to its policy. What is the Pol icy of the Government? Is it to continue reductions of salaries and social services, notwithstanding that the Commonwealth surplus for the year is reported to amount to £3,500,000? Is the Government determined to make every individual in the community march to his political Calvary in order that the budget may be balanced, and the Government be able to dress its windows attractively for the next election? The Public Service Arbitrator’s conclusions were -
The index figures are based on figures prepared by the Commonwealth and State Statisticians, and by these figures the basic wage is varied according to the fluctuations in the costs of essential commodities and rent.
Senator Pearce has said in relation to the compulsory transfer of officers that every man or woman who entered the Commonwealth Public Service knew that, in accordance with the Constitution, he or she would be liable to transfer to Canberra at some period.
Notwithstanding these recommendations the Government has called a halt, and, as a result, public servants in Canberra are to be penalized. By this cutting of the earnings of men engaged in connexion with Commonwealth administration in Canberra the Government is making a direct attack upon the women and children of this city. As Senator Collings has pointed out, the housewife will have to do without this and that, even depriving herself and her children of some of the essentials of domestic comfort: In order to institute comparisons, Senator Pearce has led us to Jericho, Cloncurry
– And Jerusalem.
– He is certainly leading public servants to their Calvary. These people, like the Israelites of old, have been led by a political Moses into the promised land, but no manna falls from Heaven for their benefit; on- the contrary, they are expected to be content with the crumbs they can sweep up from day to day.
– What about kill. ing the fatted calf?
– The fatted calf is represented by the Commonwealth Government with its surplus of £3,500,000, which has been wrung from the people of this country in order to provide an. attractive election placard, and so bolster up one of the most reactionary administrations in the history of federation.
The Public Service Arbitrator said -
These conclusions arc in direct conflict with the long-established practice of granting the Canberra special allowance only to compulsorily transferred officers. That issue has previously been dealt with by my predecessor, as stated above, and his determination that it should be granted to all has been disapproved by Parliament. In face of that fact and the definite statement by the representative of the Public Service Board that it was the policy of the Government, which of course has the hacking of Parliament, to continue this principle until the Canberra special allowance is abolished on the 30th June, 1934, I do not think it would be right for me to give a determination on the present application which would be in direct conflict with the deliberately expressed will of Parliament.
If a division is taken on this motion on non-party lines, I doubt whether the Government will have the backing of a majority of the Senate. If honorable senators desire to give the public servants a fair go, they will not allow them to be kicked, smashed, and butted all over the place simply because ‘they have no voice in this Parliament. We have to remember that the majority of public servants are well educated, and have given special study to the principles of administration.
Another feature of the amended regulation which is hard t’o understand is that men who married after the date of their compulsory transfer will receive no allowance, while single men, and married also, residing at government hostels, will receive £13 per annum irrespective of whether they were compulsorily transferred or not. It is admitted that, owing to the high cost of conducting hotels in Canberra, the amount charged for board is somewhat high, and, therefore, an allowance to officers residing at those hotels is warranted. The artificial conditions in Canberra which add to the cost of running hotels also add to the household costs of the married man. The average rent paid by public servants in Canberra is £1 12s. per week. A single officer residing at the Hotel Kurrajong pays £1 16s. a week, and receives an. allowance of 5s. weekly, reducing his board to £1 lis., or ls. Id. less than the average amount paid by the married man for the rent of his cottage. In addition, the latter has to feed his family, and pay for electric light, fuel, &c. The compulsorily transferred officer who married after the date of his transfer would, if still single, be residing at a government ho3tel, and receiving an allowance of 5s. a week, but because he is married he is penalized by the proposed regulation. What argument can the Government advance in support of the imposition of a penalty upon a public servant merely because he has married? It has been ably demonstrated that many single men in Canberra have only 17s. left after paying their board. How much can they save out of that sum ? How are they going to “ make their alley good “ with young ladies towards whom they may be matrimonially inclined, by the purchase of sweets or the observance of the other niceties of courtship ?
Much has been said regarding- the amount of State taxation from which public servants in Canberra escape. This figure is not so large as one is led to believe it to be. The average salary of all permanent public servants stationed at Canberra in December, 1932, was £313 per annum. A married Commonwealth public servant, without children, residing in the State of New South Wales, who received this salary, would pay £5 17s. 4d. unemployment tax, and 9s. income tax, a total of £6 6s. 4d. Therefore, after making allowance for the hospital tax, amounting to £1 6s., the public servant in Canberra on the average salary has a taxation advantage of £5 08. 4d. over a similar officer residing in New South Wales. It is- true, of course, that the more highly salaried officers avoid the payment of a greater amount of State taxation. It may be surprising to honorable, senators to learn, however, that at the end of last December, there were only 72 permanent public servants in Canberra who drew salaries of over £500 per annum. I do not know whether the Leader of the Senate was en.deavouring to camouflage the issue when he raised the question of State taxation, or whether his intention was merely to make an impression on the minds of honorable senators. He made no mention of the emoluments that will be enjoyed in England by “ Comrade “ Officer, as liaison officer at Australia House - a position to which he has been appointed because he happens to be a political friend of “ Comrade “ Bruce. The public servants who are stationed in Canberra are being sacrificed in order that the Government may indulge in the pastime of political window-dressing with a surplus of £3,500,000. It is said that “ out of the strong came forth sweetness.” I contend that it is nothing more nor less than base treachery for this Government to attack the politically weak public servants in Canberra.
This is not a party matter. Honorable senators on both sides of the chamber know from personal observation that there are definite disabilities connected with residence in Canberra. The organizations have satisfied the Arbitrator that the lower-paid officers are entitled to be compensated for .those disabilities. In his 30 minutes around Australia, the Leader of the Senate endeavoured to emulate Jules Verne in his Around the World in Eighty Days. He directed attention to the condition of public servants and other officials in such towns as Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Brisbane, Hughenden, Cloncurry, and Selwyn in Queensland; Bourke, Hay, Orange, Bathurst and Broken Hill in New South “Wales; Geraldton and Wyndham in Western Australia; Darwin in North Australia; and other places in the hinterland of the different States, to support his contention that the public servants in Canberra are not entitled to a special allowance to compensate them for the high cost of living here. I wonder why, during his peregrinations, he made no mention of Gundagai, the town that has been made immortal by Banjo Patterson in his famous reference to “ the dog that sat on the tucker-box.”
One would imagine that the right honorable gentleman had taken a flight in Imperial Airways’ monoplane Astrea over the towns and cities of Australia. Hi3 argument, however, will not cut much ice if honorable senators are prepared to treat this matter on its merits, and will not submit to having the whip placed across their shoulders by the Government. In fairness, Parliament should disallow the regulation, and instruct the Arbitrator to determine the whole matter according to the weight of evidence placed before him. Parliament might then, with more reason and equity, consider whether such a determination should be disallowed. The only reason for its disallowance would be, inability on the part of the Commonwealth to meet the cost, which should not exceed £10,000 for the financial year 1933-34. If the Government is concerned about the expenditure of such a sum, what justification can ‘be offered for the sending of a delegation, headed by the Leader of the Senate, to Washington a few years ago, at a cost of £9,000? The Prime Minister has just had a jaunt through Queensland, where he told the tobacco-growers, the sugar farmers, and everybody else, that prosperity had returned to this country. He promised the Mareeba tobacco-growers to appoint a special body to investigate their circumstances. I offer no objection to that, so long as the principle is extended to the tobacco-growers in other States. In view of the number of cuts that have been made in their salaries and allowances, possibly a different view is now held by many of those public servants in Canberra who, a few months ago, rushed to join a special baton gang that was set up by this Government to enforce Commonwealth action against the Lang administration in New South Wales. To-day, these chickens are coming home to roost. In my political benevolence and generosity, I tell the pUblic servants of Canberra that their friends have always been, are, and always will be, Labour parliamentarians, who are prepared to give a fair deal to every one.
– I understood the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) to say that, at the outset, public servants, who were compulsorily transferred from Melbourne to Canberra, were under the impression that this would be a continuing allowance, and would not cease after a certain period had elapsed.
– The preamble to the regulation that I read clearly points out that it was to be a payment at the outset only.
– The right honorable gentleman may not have rightly gathered the purport of Senator Rae’s question, in reply to which he furnished the information, but he certainly left with that honorable senator and me the impression that this allowance was to continue for a much longer period. However, I understand thatmany of the public servants who came to Canberra were under the impression that this allowance would be continued. During my short sojourn in this delightful city, I have come to the conclusion that the allowance paid to the public servants who have been compulsorily transferred here is not adequate to compensate them for their social and other losses. The Government’s action is quite in consonance with its wage-reducing policy. Under the Premiers plan, certain economies were effected because of financial disabilities, but now that those disabilities have disappeared, the Government is insisting upon further economies, particularly in the Public Service. I have never been a supporter of the policy of wage reduction. I do not objectto the payment of high salaries if they are earned. We shall not improve the general condition of the people in Australia by reducing the allowance paid to public servants in Canberra. It has been stated that the action which the’ Government took last year in respect of a similar regulation, met with no opposition from the members of the Labour party. I, of course, know nothing about that, but that does not make the Government’s action on this occasion right. It is only just that some recompense should be given to those who are compelled to live in a city like Canberra, in which the cost of living and other costs are high. Senator Poll has stated that the public servants of Canberra, being on the doorstep of the Parliament, have easy access to honorable senators and the members of the House of Representatives; but I would point out that the public servants in the other capital cities not onlyare on the doorstep of the Parliament, but also have the power to vote for their particular political candidate. I am informed that the people of Canberra are denied the right to vote. They are political pariahs. That anomaly is a blot upon the political life of Australia, and the sooner it is rectified the better it will be for this country generally. Let me inform Senator Foll that the public servants, not only of Canberra, but also of the other States, are up in arms against this Government because of its failure to give effect to its promise to restore the reductions in wages and salaries so soon as the financial position improved. They, like other good citizens, agreed that it was necessary to implement the Premiers plan, but now that the revenue is buoyant, they contend that it is only fair that they should be given the relief that was promised to them by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons). I have received a letter to the effect that the Queensland public servants were anxious to interview the Prime Minister on his recent visit to that State, but that, as he was so busy travelling up and down the country trying to dissipate what he considered was a false impression about the vendetta against Queensland, he had no time to give to them. The Queensland public servants admit that it was necessary for the Scullin Government to reduce wages and salaries during the period of the depression, but now that the financial position is progressively improving, they feel, and rightly so, that some consideration “ should be given to them. I hold no brief for the public servants, but I deprecate the idea of penalizing one section of the community more than another, just because it is a little better off financially. We who belong to the Labour party are continually fighting on behalf of the people who are to-day facing adversity - those who have temporary positions or no work at all. I admit that the public servants have security of tenure, and that they are better paid, in many instances, than other sections of the community, but that is no argument in favour of treating them unjustly. I sincerely hope that in the near future this Government will do something to relieve the people who are unemployed, and not receiving sufficient to enable them to feed and clothe themselves. Senator Foll has tried to convey the impression that the public servants of Canberra a.re asking for preferential treatment, but they are doing nothing of the sort. I understand that in Queensland there are many towns in which married public servants receive an allowance of from £20 to £100, and if that is true, there is no reason why public servants in Canberra should not also receive an allowance. There is no need to quote the weighted average of this and that city whenwe know by actual experience that the cost of living is considerably higher in Canberra than in the other capital cities of Australia. We should give the public servantstheir due, and with that object in view, I shall support the motion of the Leader of the Opposition.
.- There seemed to be some reluctance on the part of the Public Service Arbitrator to give a judgment on this question because of something which occurred in the Senate a year or so ago. I have no wish to reflect upon the Arbitrator, but in the position which he occupies to-day, he should have no hesitation whatever in making an award, irrespective of any action which the Government may take later to abrogate it. The public servants should at least receive consideration equal to that given to other sections of the community. It seems radically wrong for the Government to place the public servants on a plane different from that of people in other walks of life. There are special features of Canberra which make it a difficult place in which to live, particularly for people on a low wage. Rents in Canberra are much higher than they are in, say, Melbourne, whence most of the public servants were transferred. I ask the Senate to agree to my proposal to refer this matter to the proper authority - the Public Service Arbitrator - so that it may be considered in the light of the evidence placed before him, and when his award is made, the Government may then, if it so desires, disallow it. It has been said that, if my motion were agreed to, the vote that was taken last year on a similar question would be nullified, but I submit that the Parliament may, in the light of additional evidence, alter a previous decision. I claim that the evidence before us is quite sufficient to warrant the action that I am proposing.
Question - That the motion (Senator Barnes’) be agreed to - put. The Senate divided. (President - Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch.)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
In committee: (Consideration resumed from the 4th July, vide page 2812).
Group 5. - Amendments made by the present Government which are supported by Tariff Board reports.
Iron and steel plate and sheet, viz.: -
Corrugated galvanized, galvanized not corrugated, and corrugated not galvanized, per ton, British, 90s., general, 130s.
Upon which Senator E. B. Johnston had moved -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, per ton, British, 20s.
– This is one of the most interesting items in the tariff schedule. It is not over-stating the position to say that, for many years, galvanized iron, both imported and local, has been made the plaything of politics. No other item has received greater attention from successive governments, and bounties have been granted since 1922, which have thrice been varied. The Tariff Board has reported on the subject on several occasions, and, in addition, an embargo operated for a time against importations. In 1922, a bounty of £2 12s. per ton was given on the production of galvanized iron within the Commonwealth, and in 1927 the act was altered to give the Government power to increase the bounty to £3 12s., that amount again being increased to £4 10s. in 1929. ,It is worthy of mention that a bounty of £3 8s. a ton is also granted on wire netting, which is admitted free, so that the manufacturers of that product receive a handsome gratuity.
My request is a most moderate one, being equivalent to the rate of duty that was introduced by the Bruce-Page Government. I point out to honorable senators of -the Opposition, in particular, that this is one of the few instances in which, if they wish, they can reduce the present rate of duty without decreasing the amount of assistance that is given to the industry, because the Government is authorized to pay a bounty up to £4 10s. a ton. When the duty of £4 10s. was imposed by the Scullin Government, in 1929, the bounty automatically ceased to operate. I do not know -whether that was one of the savings effected under the Premiers plan, but the result was that instead of the general community contributing £4 10s. a ton in the form of a bounty on galvanized iron produced in Australia, that amount had to be borne directly by a section, those in the outback, who use this important and useful commodity extensively. Large sums were paid by the Government under the provisions of the Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act, Hansard revealing that from 1922 to the 30th June, 1932, an amount of £599,063 was paid in bounty on wire netting, £713,574 on fencing wire, and no less than £528,207 on galvanized iron, or a total of £1,840,844. I do not object to that, for I realize that this is a most valuable industry to Australia, and one that should be encouraged, also that the only proper way to do that is by paying a bounty on its products.
Although the Tariff Board has made several reports on the subject, naturally, the question of whether the industry should be assisted by a bounty or a duty was not referred to that body, for that is a matter of policy to be determined by the Government. The necessary legislative machinery is in existence if the Government is prepared to decree that a bounty of £3 10s., a ton shall be paid on galvanized iron’, and that form of assistance has the great advantage of not placing the burden directly upon our pioneers in the outback who use galvanized iron. The amount of bounty would be fixed, under the act, by the Tariff Board. In addition, the people of Australia would know exactly what amount they were contributing to assist the industry.
In its report of the 18th August, 1932. the Tariff Board states that under the Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act 1922-29. authority is given to the Government to pay a bounty at the rate of £4 10s. a ton on galvanized sheets manufactured in Australia, and delivered from the factory on and after the 1st of January, 1930. Section 3 of the act reads -
Provided that the rates of bounty payable on any fencing wire, galvanized sheets, traction engines, or wire netting, delivered from the Australian factory after the introduction of a Customs Tariff bringing into operation increased duties of customs on any of those articles, shall be decreased by an amount, in the opinion of the Minister, after inquiry and report by the Tariff Board, corresponding to the amount by which the’ respective duties of customs are increased.
Because of the operation of the tariff resolution of the 3rd May, 1932, which increased the duties by £4 10s. a ton, no bounty is payable on galvanized iron.
I have received a letter from Sir Hal Colebatch, in which he was good enough to give me the result of the inquiries which he made in England regarding the price of galvanized iron. The letter is dated the 11th May last, and it indicates that in the course of his discussion with representatives of Barnards Limited and the White Cross Company Limited, two English firms which sell galvanized iron. the question of corrugated steel sheets crept up, and Sir Hal Colebatch obtained the following quotations: -
From 100 to 200 tons galvanized corrugated steel sheets Australian “ crown “ quality, assorted, 6 feet to 8 feet, and 8 feet 3 inches, 26 gauge, ?12 10s. a ton; 9 feet, 10s., and 10 feet, ?1 a ton extra, packed in 10-cwt. feltlined skeleton cases f.o.b. Liverpool.
Sir Hal Colebatch added
From this you will see that the Australian suppliers of galvanized iron are at present charging the English price, plus freight, plus exchange, and plus the whole of the present Commonwealth duties.
I have here figures-, prepared in Sydney, which confirm this statement in detail. Most honorable senators recognize the value of galvanized iron to our primary producers and others. In the newer settlements and the undeveloped portions of the Commonwealth, particularly, it is an essential commodity. The first buildings erected almost everywhere are of galvanized iron, and the sheds used by those engaged in the primary industries are almost invariably built of this material. While this high duty presses with particular severity on the people in the outback, it also affects the workers in the cities, because galvanized iron is used for roofing their homes. Senator Hoare referred the other day to the large quantity of iron used in. connexion with the housing scheme in Adelaide a few years ago. In new towns like Wiluna, in Western Australia, the houses are usually built of galvanized iron. With the exception of the hotels, practically every building in the settlement is constructed of this material. The people in the driest, most remote, and inaccessible parts of the Commonwealth are all penalized to the extent of ?4 10s. a ton when purchasing this material, which is so necessary to them. Hundreds of the homes erected at Wiluna for the miners have been constructed of galvanized iron, many of them having been erected by the workers themselves. The burden of protection afforded to this industry exceeds the limit of safety, and is beyond the capacity of the export industries upon which the ultimate cost must fall. The great slump in world prices should have been accompanied by a corresponding fall in local costs of production, and that such a fall has not occurred is largely due to the ability of the local manufacturers to maintain prices with the help of the artificial protection afforded by the tariff. Wool, which is Australia’s main primary industry, and furnishes the greatest volume of exports, is returning approximately 30 per cent. less than it was two and a quarter years ago. The position has admittedly improved somewhat during the last fortnight.
Galvanized iron is vitally necessary, especially to primary producers for roofing homes, and constructing sheds, barns, and wool sheds; for the conservation of water; the protection of plant, stock and produce; and for other purposes. This commodity is of greater importance to-day than ever before, for the reason that necessary repairs, renewals and extensions, which have been held up for a considerable time owing to the high cost of galvanized iron, must now be undertaken. Furthermore, the ravages of mice and the continuity of broken weather during and since the harvesting, have necessitated the purchase of iron for the protection of the wheat stacks, regardless of cost. It is important to remember that, if the duty is reduced immediately, the bounty can come into operation, and the great steel works at Newcastle will not receive one penny less. The only difference will be that the burden of assisting the industry will be divided more fairly among the whole community. Instead of the users of galvanized iron paying ?4 10s. aton to protect the local industry, they will pay ?1, and the community as a whole will pay the other ?3 10s.
TheCHAIRMAN. - The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Honorable senators will, I think, agree with me when I say that no other industry in the Commonwealth has been so exhaustively investigated by the Tariff Board as has the galvanized iron industry. Inquiries were made by the board in 1925, 1931, and again in 1932, and comprehensive reports were submitted on each occasion. Perhaps a recapitulation of the history of the industry might prove informative
Arising out of the acute shortage of supplies of galvanized iron during the war, the then Government made overtures to John Lysaghts of England to establish galvanized iron-making plant in Australia, and it is understood that certain assurances that the industry would be adequately protected were given to’ the representatives of’ the industry. Shortly after the war, the industry was established at Newcastle, but its capacity output was limited to approximately 25,000 tons of galvanized iron per annum. ‘The Australian requirements of galvanized iron were over 100,000 tons, so a bountycumduty form of protection was accorded to the industry. A duty of 20s. a ton on imports fully satisfied the bounty claims submitted by the manufacturer.
Some few years ago the company extended its plant” so as to be in a position to supply the whole of the requirements of Australia in galvanized iron. The very convenient arrangement of imposing a small duty to pay the bounty on Australian production could no longer be persevered with, and it then became a question of granting protection either by a straight-out duty, or a bounty sufficiently high to give a reasonable proportion of the Australian market to the local manufacturer. The last Government took the view that the industry was entitled to the ordinary protection afforded by the customs tariff, and imposed a duty of 110s. a ton, British, and 150s., general tariff. These rates conformed with a deferred duty recommendation made by the Tariff Board in 1925.
The rates recommended by the Tariff Board as a result of each of its three investigations were -
The later recommendation was made conditional upon certain price reductions being made.
When the present Government came into office, the late Minister, Sir Henry Gullett, made representation to representatives of the iron and steel industry, including the galvanized iron industry, that, in the general plan of national re- habilitation, they might feel disposed to make reductions in their selling prices. It was realized that price reduction in such an important basic raw material would benefit other minor industries as well as the public generally. As a result of this appeal by the Minister, the firm of Lysaght Limited immediately reduced its price from £28 10s. a ton, ex store, to £26 10s. Subsequently, as the result of a recommendation made by the board, the price was reduced from £26 10s. to £25 - a further reduction of £1 10s. a ton. The board also recommended that reductions in the selling price should be made in relation to any fall in wages. Since the board’s report was received, the basic wage in New South Wales has been reduced, and this should have permitted a reduction in prices. However, soon after the board made its report, the price of zinc rose considerably, and practically offset the fall in wages. The price of zinc has since fallen, but is still much higher than that upon which the board based its recommendation.
Since the board submitted its report, particular attention has been given to the matter of price. The reduction in the price of zinc, to which I have just referred, enabled the Minister to approach Lysaght Limited, and suggest to them that a further reduction in selling price should be brought about. The manufacturers, in reply, intimated that they would reduce the price as on and from the 1st May last by 10s. a ton. This reduction brings the gross .price, ex store, to £24 10s. a ton, or ex wharf, £24. Since this Government came into office it has brought about a reduction of £4 per ton. On the present consumption figures of 60,000 tons per annum., this represents a community saving of £240,000. Thus, the users are benefited, and, at the same time, the industry’s existence is not jeopardized.
On the 1st September, 1932, the Government removed the primage duty from galvanized iron. The local manufacturer pointed out that the Tariff Board had taken primage and exchange into consideration in arriving at the customs duties recommended by them, namely, 90s. a ton, British preferential tariff, and 130s. a ton, general tariff. The Tariff Board was communicated with on this point, and in a memorandum dated the 16th September, 1932, the board stated that, had primage duty not been operating at the time of its report, the duties recommended would have been 30s. a ton higher. As the removal of the primage gave less protection to the local manufacturers than was intended by the Tariff Board, and as the Government had acted on the board’s recommendation in this case, it was only fair and reasonable to the local manufacturers that the primage duty should be re-imposed. The selling price of galvanized iron had been fixed at a reasonable figure, and the reimposition of the primage could not affect the price of the local product. Senator Johnston has addressed himself, not so much to securing a reduction of the protection afforded to the industry, as to having that protection restored to the form in which it was granted previously, namely, a duty plus a bounty. The last Government abandoned the bounty system, leaving the industry to rely for protection on customs duties. I confess that I approve of the method adopted, because we now .really know where we are, and are not troubled with the unpleasant complications that are attendant upon the payment of money by way of bounty.
A reduction of the duty on galvanized iron in the British preferential tariff to £1 a ton would, if the present protection accorded the industry is to be maintained, necessitate the grant of a bounty of £3 10s. a ton on galvanized iron produced in Australia. The Tariff Board has stated that a protection of £4 10s. a ton is necessary against galvanized iron from the United Kingdom. The board, in determining the extent of protection, took exchange and primage into consideration.
On the assumption that Senator Johnston does not desire the cessation of the manufacture of galvanized iron in Australia, and that the difference in the protection would have to be made up by bounty, I wish to quote a few figures to show that the bounty-cum-duty form of protection would not now serve the purpose which it served during the BrucePage regime, when it last operated. When the Bruce-Page Government held office, a bounty-cum-duty protection was accorded, but at that time the local produc tion was approximately 25,000 tons per annum out of an annual requirement of 112,000 tons. The bounty then stood at £3 8s. a ton, and the total bounty paid was, therefore, about £85,000. The average importations were approximately 87,000 tons, which, at a duty of £1 a ton, yielded £87,000 in revenue. It will thus be seen that the Treasury receipts from duty and the expenditure on the bounty practically balanced. These rates were specifically imposed to relieve the Treasury of any financial obligation in encouraging the establishment and extension of the local industry. The government of the day was enabled to do this by reason of the fact that the Australian plant could not then produce more than 25,000 tons per annum.
The position under present conditions is entirely different. The total annual requirements now amount to about 70,000 tons. The local manufacturers, who have extended their plant to meet the Australian requirements, are supplying practically the whole of this quantity. If the bounty-cum-duty form of protection were reverted to, very little customs ‘duty would be received; .but, at the rate of bounty of £3 10s. a ton, it would be necessary to pay from Consolidated Revenue a sum approximating £250,000. It will be realized that the bounty-cum-duty form of protection was an excellent one, and fully met the circumstances obtaining during the initial stages of the industry’s development. It cannot, however, be applied effectively when an industry is supplying practically the whole of a country’s requirements. If the amendment requested were passed into law, and no bounty were paid, the industry would have to close down, and many thousands of employees would be out of work. The outlet provided for iron bar from the iron and steel industry to the galvanized iron section enables the former to reduce its price generally over the whole range of its manufactures. The prices of these manufactures would rise immediately, if galvanized iron were not produced in Australia. The industry has reached a stage at which the general protectionist principles adopted by this Government must be applied, and the Government takes the view that a bounty, or a bountycumduty form of protection, is quite impracticable.
The Tariff Board, as honorable senators will observe, based most of its calculations on an output by the Australian company of 60,000 tons per annum, and it is evident that no extortion is being practised on the purchasers of this commodity. The board said that, on an output of 80,000 tons per annum, the profit would amount to11s.10d. a ton, which would give a profit on the capital employed in the industry of 7 per cent.; on 60,000 tons, 5.25 per cent.; on 40,000 tons, 3.5 per cent.,; and on 30,000 tons, alittle over 2½ per cent. Therefore, so far as we can judge, this company, under present conditions, is not battening on the Australian users of galvanized iron. While we have every sympathy with those to whom Senator Johnston has referred, we know that the quality of galvanized iron, whether made in Australia or in any other country, has definitely deteriorated. I recall that persons desirous of buying wire netting of the quality that they could purchase many years ago, blame the Australian manufacturers for the inferior quality of the article now procurable; but I can confidently assert that the galvanized iron now produced in Australia is quite as good as that manufactured overseas. In fact, there is not the slightest difference in quality, and similar material is used in its manufacture.
– Does the Minister say that the Australian article is inferior ?
– No. Although both the imported and the locally manufactured iron is inferiorto that obtainable ten or fifteen years ago, the Australian commodity is equal in quality to that imported from overseas. I commend the report of the board to the attention of honorable senators, because much care has been exercised by that tribunal in dealing with this matter. It has had the subject under consideration for years, and the Government intends to support its recommendations.
– The Minister has just said that the galvanized iron which was made fifteen or twenty years ago was better than the article that is produced to-day. He did not tell us the reason for this, but we on this side can easily give it. The deterioration is due to the desire of the manufacturers to provide profits for their shareholders. Senator Johnston referred to the poor workers at Wiluna, and the difficulties experienced by them in providing themselves with houses. My advice to those workers is to refrain from building their own homes. Let the profitseeking bosses at the mines erect homes for the workers, because, if the latter happen to lose their jobs, they may have their properties left on their hands. I have worked on mining fields in Queensland.
– The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the item under consideration.
– As Senator Johnston has referred to the difficulties of the workers at Wiluna, I remind him that the last Labour Government was responsible for the payment of the gold bounty out of the Consolidated Revenue of the Commonwealth.
Let us consider, for a moment, the pitiable- condition of the mendicants who went before the Tariff Board on the 18 th August, 1932, wearing a card round their necks on which appeared the legend “ Pity the poor “. Who was it who asked for the retention of the present duties ? First, there was Mr. Fred Lightfoot Walker, managing director of John Lysaght, Australia, Limited, of 33 Macquarieplace, Sydney, who appeared on behalf of Lysaght’s Newcastle Works Limited. Other witnesses were Mr. James K. Merritt, director of John Lysaght, Australia, Limited, galvanized iron manfacturers, Queen-street, Melbourne, and Mr. Walter C. Cambridge, general secretary, Farmers and Settlers Association, O’Connell-street, Sydney, Evidence was also given by Mr. Sidney Linden Officer, secretary of the Graziers Association ofVictoria and the Graziers Association of Southern Riverina. Are these unfortunate people on the dole, and do they require cheaper galvanized iron in order to build a cowbail alongside the offices of the Sydney Morning Herald? Presumably, they asked for cheaper galvanized iron to enable them to erect a hay barn in Collins-street, Melbourne. Another witness was Mr. Norman William Hutchinson, president of the Australian Association of British Manufacturers, who is also manager in Australia of Nielson and Maxwell
Limited, iron and steel merchants, London, Glasgow, Melbourne, Sydney, and New Zealand. I suppose that he wished to build a few fowl houses at Darling Point or Potts Point, Sydney, or at Toorak, Melbourne, and we must sympathize with him. Mr. Reginald Dines Westmore appeared on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, Incorporated, Grosvenor-street, Sydney. I waa not aware that there is a lot of good grazing country in that locality. Another witness was Mr. Norman L. Rigg, seller of galvanized iron, of Flinders-street, Melbourne. Did he desire to build a few outhouses near the Flinders-street Railway Station ?
– Those are the men who “ farm “ the farmers.
– Yes. According to the Tariff Board’s report, the only manufacturers of galvanized iron in Australia are Lysaghts Newcastle “Works, Limited, which commenced operations in 1921 with a plant capable of producing 25,000 tons of galvanized iron per annum. By May, 1930, the company had increased its plant capacity to 80,000 tons per annum.
Senator Johnston and other patriots, who criticize the Labour party for what they allege is its lack of patriotism, probably do not know that during the war large quantities of galvanized iron were used in protecting the Australian troops. The Tariff Board, in its report of the 15th April, 1931, gave a resume of the steps which led to the establishment of the galvanized-iron-making industry in Australia. It pointed out ‘ that during the war there was a shortage of this material, and that the extremely high prices charged for imported galvanized iron resulted in a movement being set on foot to make Australia independent of outside sources of supply. From information obtained at a previous inquiry, the board stated that it appeared that the Commonwealth Government had definitely encouraged John Lysaght Limited, of Bristol, England, to begin manufacture in Australia, and that later, it gave that firm an assurance that the industry would be adequately protected. Acting on that assurance, the firm extended its plant to a . capacity approaching the normal Australian demand. Lysaght’s works at Newcastle, which are controlled and virtually owned by John’ Lysaght Limited, of Bristol, commenced operations in 1921 with a factory of seven mills, capable of producing 25,000 tons of galvanized iron per annum. Later, additional mills were erected, and by May, 1930, the company had sixteen mills, with a capacity of 80,000 tons per annum. When the Australian firm commenced operations, little or no protection was necessary because of the high prices then ruling for imported galvanized iron; hut when the price of the imported material fell, protection was given to the local industry. That protection took the form, of a duty on imported galvanized iron, and a bounty on Australian production. Mr. F. W. Hughes, a vice-president of the Sydney Chamber of Manufactures, who owns 500,000 sheep and employs 1,500 men-
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Apparently, the Senate is not likely to adjourn this week, as was expected, chiefly because some honorable senators opposite wish to indulge in propaganda. The request moved by Senator Johnston is in direct opposition to the policy which he espoused when dealing with the Ottawa agreement. Reference has been made “to the bounty on the production of galvanized iron in this country, but the Minister said that .no bounty is now paid.
– Provision for it still remains, and if the request were agreed to, it would again be paid.
– - If Australia had to pay bounties, there would not be much left of the surplus with which we ended the financial year. I understand that Senator Johnston wishes to avoid any extra charges being imposed on the users of galvanized iron.
– I wish to leave things where they remained for ten years.
– The. Minister has told us that the item before us was exhaustively investigated by the Tariff Board, and, consequently, Senator Johnston, who, on other occasions, has supported tariff-making by the Tariff Board, should be satisfied. Senator Payne also has shown the people of Australia how to turn a complete somersault. If honorable senators opposite continue to indulge in propaganda, this tariff debate, which we thought would end this week, may continue for several weeks more. I am sufficiently patriotic to oppose the request, for I believe that the encouragement of this manuf acture is in the interests of both primary and secondary industries. The greater the number of persons employed in secondary industries, the bigger the market for our primary products; and, therefore, it seems to me to be absurd to attack the duties on item after item. Senator Johnston said that the duty on galvanized iron would press heavily on the primary producers in the backblocks. I remind him that this material is used in large quantities by city and suburban dwellers, particularly in Queensland, where a considerable proportion of the homes of the people, if not constructed entirely of galvanized iron, are roofed with this material. I myself have used a considerable quantity of this material in the erection of houses at various times.
– Did the honorable senator ever try to buy it directly from the manufacturers?
– I paid a higher price for it than most farmers do, for, generally, they get it at wholesale rates.
– If the honorable senator desired to purchase 1,000 tons of galvanized iron to-day, directly from the manufacturers, he could not get it.
– I wish to correct the false impression that the farming community is the only section of the people which uses galvanized iron in any considerable quantities. Every worker uses it in the construction of his humble home. I regard with suspicion those persons who would destroy this Australian industry, allegedly in the interests of one section of the people, and, therefore, I hope that the request will be rejected. The loss of nearly a quarter of a million pounds is something which cannot be lightly regarded, for it would probably mean the further taxing of an already heavily taxed people. The galvanized iron manufacturing industry is one pecu- liarly suited to Australia, for all the raw materials are obtainable in this country. The making of the galvanized iron is not a particularly intricate engineering task, and there is no doubt that Australian gal vanized iron compares more than favorably with the imported material. I trust that this will be the last request we shall have on what I regard as a propaganda stunt.
– I rise to a point of order. The committee is now dealing with a commodity which is of the utmost importance to primary producers, and the country has subsidized it with a bounty to the extent of over £500,000.. Senator MacDonald, in referring to my attitude on this item, has made an offensive remark which should be withdrawn.
– If thewords used by the honorable senator are offensive to another honorable senator they must be withdrawn.
– I withdraw them, although I realize that some have finer sensibilities than others. As I suggested earlier in the debate, there are a number of items which should be grouped, and upon which a test vote should be taken. If that were done, it would curtail discussion. There does not appear to be any necessity to go on filling up Hansard by repeating arguments that have already been adduced. If honorable senators opposite believe in tariff-making by means of the Tariff Board, they should support the duties which that board recommends. I hope that Senator Johnston will not be annoyed if I conclude by saying that there is at least a mild feeling in the air that some are trying to gain an advertisement by supporting the interests of those whom they represent. I trust the committee will reject the request.
SenatorBRENNAN (Victoria) [4.17]. - Carlyle preached the doctrine of silence through 40 volumes we are told, and Senator MacDonald has counselled it for other honorable senators in a speech which ran almost to the limit of time allowed under our Standing Orders. I do not know what right the honorable senator has to seek to curtail the expression of views which differ from those held by him. Surely the business of a parliament and of either House of this Parliament is to discuss matters thoroughly before agreeing to proposals in legislative form. The suggestion that, because certain duties have been adopted, the rates of duty in the items still remaining to be discussed should not be debated, makes it evident to me that the honorable senator has not read them. He assumes that they are all on the same footing.
– I referred to those items which stand upon the same footing in regard to the recommendations of the Tariff Board.
– The honorable senator has made up his mind to fight for the highest duties that he can get.
– And he accuses us of stating our views for propaganda purposes.
– The words objected to were withdrawn.
– Yes, when objected to by Senator Johnston ; but the honorable senator made a similar statement earlier to which no one objected, when he used the same words, and accused all who expressed views at variance with his of indulging in propaganda. I am not going to resort to the tu quoque form of argument. I merely claim the right to consider every item that comes before the committee, regardless of the fact that proper discussion may keep us here throughout this week, and even bring us back next week. Iregardit as our prime duty to give full consideration to the task before us, and not to be concerned in getting away as soon as possible. The Senate would fall in popular estimation if we allowed it to be understood that we are here to echo the sentiments expressed in another place, or to accept all the proposals of the Government.
I agree with the Minister (Senator McLachlan) when he says that no industry has been more exhaustively inquired into than the galvanized iron industry; but Senator MacDonald pins his faith to the fact that these duties follow upon a recommendation of the Tariff Board. That is a matter capable of verification and is beyond argument; but I venture to put it that the proposals of the Government are not, literally, at any rate, following the recommendations of the Tariff Board. The board’s recommendation is that the rates of duty be - British, 40s.; intermediate, 75s.; and general, 100s. - adhering to the old three- column arrangement. That is its primary recommendation. Dispensing with the intermediate column, the rates would be - British, 40s. ; and general, 100s. The Tariff Board stated that -
If the foregoing duties he brought into operation and the provisions of the Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act 1922-1920. authorizing payment of bounty of galvanized iron produced in Australia be repealed-
The board went on to say - or, as an alternative to (a) and (b) - (c) That provided the list selling prices of locallymanufactured galvanized iron be immediately reduced to the basis of £24 10s per ton,ex store, or £24 per ton free on wharf at main Australian ports for 26 gauge “ Orb “ quality galvanized corrugated iron packed in skeleton felt-lined cases . . . the rates should be - British, 90s.; general, 130s.
Those are the duties shown in the schedule, but it follows that in framing this schedule the Government is satisfied that the conditions mentioned in paragraph c have been fulfilled. Taking the actual words of the Minister, I do not think that they show that the prices have been reduced to the extent the board recommended.
– The Government is satisfied that they have been so reduced.
– That may be so, but the actual figures given by the Minister do not bear out that contention.
This brings me to another branch of the subject, which, I hope, will be considered relevant to the item we are discussing - the extent to which these proposals are leading us towards the socialistic state. “We have been told that Sir Henry Gullett, when Minister for Trade and Customs, suggested to the company making galvanized iron that it should reduce its selling price, and that, as a result of those representations it reduced the price to £28 10s. per ton.We have a statement on page 3 of the report which reads -
Provided that if at any time the Minister notifies in the Gazette that in his opinion the Australian requirements for the goods specified in this item for any period of twelve months after the first day of September, 1931, have exceeded 60,000 tons, the rates of duty on such goods shall; on and from the date of gazettal be -
The amounts are then set out. I have read the conditions mentioned in the schedule, which suggests a system of policing the industry - to use the words of Senator Foll - by the Government. It suggests a general supervision over the industry - a gradual sinking down into governmental supervision of this and all other great industries. Another of. the subjects mentioned is that of wages, which also has to be considered from two . aspects.
– I suggested the policing of industries in which the Government had an indirect interest.
– On page 11 of the board’s report it is stated that -
It has already been shown that if wages in the galvanized iron industry were based on the federal basic wage the reasonable selling price of locally manufactured iron could be reduced by approximately £1 14s. a ton. A margin of protection, which under present conditions would enable the local manufacturers to include in their selling prices the extra, £5 4s. per ton mentioned in the preceding paragraph, would, if wages were reduced, as suggested, permit the inclusion in the selling price of an extra £6 18s. per ton.
I realize that a suggestion to interfere with wages in a downward direction would be sufficient to stir up the activities of every honorable senator opposite. No one likes low wages. Every honorable senator on this side of the chamber, equally with honorable senators opposite, would be glad to see wages in an industry as high as the industry could bear. But the essential fact to be faced in this connexion is that privileges enjoyed, even by one section of wage-earners, are enjoyed at the expense of other sections. High wages are not provided generally merely by the fact that Lysaght Limited or the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited in Newcastle pay high wages. If those companies pay higher wages than the average rates they are helping to reduce the average of the wages which others receive. There is the further fact that if specially high wages are paid as a result of a determination of the New South Wales Wages Board, then they are wages which should not be enjoyed only by one section of the people - a section confined to one State. Therefore, when we are increasing duties because of the high wages paid, we are conferring a privilege upon one State only, although one of the fundamental principles of our federation is that all taxation and all burdens shall be borne equally as between State and State, and legislative differentiation between State and State would be annulled by the High Court.
– What if a federal award provides for a differentiation as between the various States?
– I am quite aware that it has been held that the court is entitled to take into account the differing conditions in the various States.
– That destroys the whole force of the honorable senator’s argument.
– I do not think that it does. These wages are not fixed as awards of the federal tribunal, but by reason of the special conditions which prevail in one of the States.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the Victorian Wages Board should be dispensed with?
– I am not committing myself to that.
– That is what the honorable senator’s argument leads to.
– I do not think so. I think that it suggests that this Parliament should not, by means of customs duties, give special privileges to one particular industry, which as it happens in this case, is confined to one State, in order that the State may give special privileges to its employees. We are now dealing with the galvanized iron industry, the products of which are used by the poorer section of primary producers. I associate myself with Senator Johnston in adesire to do what I can for these people, and although the reduction proposed by Senator J ohnston is rather drastic, I am in favour of some reduction in the rates in the schedule now before us.
SenatorDUNN (New South Wales) [4.30]. - Honorable senators have just been listening to a piece of parochial pleading by Senator Brennan, who objects to adequate protection being given to the galvanized iron industry, because it benefits employees in New South Wales only. If Lysaght’s had established their works at Footscray, in Victoria, Senator Brennan would probably be found voting for these duties. Mr. F. W. Hughes, the vice-president of the Sydney Chamber of Manufactures, who depastures 500,000 sheep and employs 1,500 men in his textile factories, recently declared that -
Heeding the urgent entreaties to provide employment , textile manufacturers extended their works under the illusion that an industry so natural to Australia would always receive ample ‘protection. That illusion has been rudely shattered by the recent reduction of about 40 per cent, in the duties on yarns and about 30 per cent, on woollen textiles.
More galvanized iron is used in the construction of the wool-scouring establishments and tanneries in Botany than in connexion with 200 Australian farm homesteads. Mr. Hughes also said that the utterances of people who ought to know better indicate that they desire to destroy the secondary industries of Australia, thus depriving fully 2,000,000 of our population of their livelihood.
Senator Johnston stated that the duty in this item pressed heavily on primary producers, and suggested that Australian farmers had not benefited from the protective policy of the Commonwealth. Actually, there is effective protection on many lines of primary production. For example, butter and cheese are protected to the extent of 7d. per lb.; bacon and ham, 4d. per lb.; maize, £3 10s. per ton; wheat and barley, £2 per ton; honey, 2d. per lb.; meat and milk, 3d. per lb.; onions, £8 per ton; potatoes, £2 10s. per ton; and dried fruits’, 7d. per lb. If this protection were withdrawn, our farmers would be ruined. In addition, there are subsidies on wheat and sugar; but, because the protective policy of the Commonwealth extends also to our secondary industries, we hear loud protests from a number of honorable senators in this chamber, who have announced their intention to support Senator Johnston’s request. Harvesting machinery made in protected Australia is sold more cheaply to our farmers than is the duty-free imported harvesting machinery sold to farmers in the Argentine. There are ten times more persons employed in Australian factories than in our primary industries, despite the fact that subsidies paid to our primary producers in the last ten years have amounted to £250,000,000, at a cost to Australia in interest of £10,000,000 per annum. In addition, the losses sustained by the community on land settlement and irrigation schemes, country railways projects, and other proposals to benefit the rural producers amount to another £10,000,000 per year.
– Order! The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the item before the committee.
– What I have said shows clearly that, speaking generally, our primary producers have been enjoying a pretty good spin in the way of subsidies, the main cost of which is borne by our manufacturing industries through taxation. Often we read of Australians who, when abroad, refer in glowing terms to our resources and potentialities, and, when they return, declare that it is the finest country in the world. Only a few months ago the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), while on a visit to Newcastle, attended a dinner arranged by the Newcastle Chamber of Manufactures and the local civic fathers. No doubt the wine was red, and so was the meat, the result being that the Prime Minister and his friends suddenly gave evidence of the red blood in their veins, by declaring, as with one voice, that the prosperity of Australia depended on Australian industries, and in particular upon the industries of Newcastle. Now, my dear old friend and Doctor of Jurisprudence, Senator Brennan, who, it. is said, slipped on a banana skin outside the Cabinet door, and also has missed the expected vacancy due by the contemplated retirement of Senator Massy Greene, thinks that any old whip is good enough to flog the Government with. The Tariff Board, in its report on this industry, states -
There’ would appear to be few major industries more capable of successful establishment in Australia than the galvanized iron industry. The advantages may be briefly set out as under -
Bich available deposits of iron ore;-
Senator O’Halloran, who knows all about Iron Knob, in South Australia, will not disagree with that statement. Nor will Senator Johnston, the leader of the Dominion League in Western Australia, because he knows ‘that not so long ago the Japanese Government made an attempt to purchase Doolan Island in Yampi Sound, in the north-west of Western Australia, because the iron ore deposit contains 98 per cent. of pure iron. Luckily, the State Government, in a spirit of imperial indignation, waved the Union Jack, and declared that the iron was not for sale. The Tariff Board’s report continues -
Making the best of these advantages, the local company erected its plant at Newcastle on a site adjoining the steel works of Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, thus saving uneconomic handling of the steel sheet bars from which the sheets are rolled, and securing a handling market for its scrap.
The industry is of great importance to Australia, in that it is productive of a large amount of labour. Practically all the raw materials used are of Australian origin, and a very large percentage of their cost is the result of expenditure on labour. Calculations made by the board indicate, roughly, that the production of one ton of galvanized sheets, the expenditure on labour in converting the crude natural resources of the Commonwealth into the finished sheets packed in cases is not less than £11 per ton. Australia’s normal requirements of over 100,000 toils per annum would, if made in Australia, result in the distribution of wagesamounting to over £1,000,000 per annum.
That £1,000,000 per annum distributed in wages would be used to buy Australian butter, cheese, bacon, ham, maize, wheat, barley, honey, meat, milk, onions, potatoes and dried fruits, all of which enjoy protection in the local market, and if those patriotically inclined wished to do so, they could also purchase Australian flags made in Japan. Senator Johnston is entitled to his opinion about the effect of our protective policy, but I remind him that our primary industries also enjoy a substantial benefit from it. The Tariff Board goes on to state -
On the question whether prohibition of importations or an adequate duty better serves the purpose of fostering the Australian industry, the board considers that the case against prohibition as a permanent method of protection is very strong. No evidence was tendered in support of an embargo though an attempt to justify the existing prohibition was made by Lysaghts on the grounds that -
It helps to solve the present unemployment problem;
) It assists in rectifying the exchange position;-
This will be of interest to Comrade Hardy, as well as to one of his outside contacts, Mr. Davidson, the general manager of the Bank of New South Wales-
Despite the vast expenditure to assist primary production, to which I referred earlier in my remarks, there are now in employment in rural industries 48,000 fewer persons than there were twenty years ago.
– That is because a government, supported by the honorable senator, placed such heavy tariff burdens on industry.
– Nothing of the sort. The reduction of the number of persons employed in rural industries is due to the mechanization of all farm work. Only a day or two ago, I read of an enterprising Australian who had visited the United States of America, and brought back a vacuum machine that will pluck the feathers out of poultry at an incredible speed. Although employment has declined so seriously in rural occupations, secondary industries, without subsidies from 1911 to 1930, provided employment for an additional 130,000 persons. I do not blame Senator Johnston for advocating principles in accordance with the policy upon which he was elected, but I do ask that justice be done to the secondary industries which provide a market for the products of the primary producer.
– Senator Dunn referred to certain rates of duty that are applicable to primary products, but he omitted to point out that those duties have no practical value. For instance, of what use to the farmer is the duty of 2s. a cental on wheat? Of every three bushels of wheat produced in this country, only one is consumed locally, and two are exported. That has been the case for many years; therefore, this so-called protection of the wheat-grower is as useless as a fifth wheel on a coach. But people at a distance are misled by the reiterated statement of Senator Dunn and his colleagues that the wheat-growers and other primary producers are highly protected. They do not want protection. If all the ships in the world were to bring wheat to Australia, the local growers could hold their own. That is true even of the men farming the light and dry soils of Western Australia, the Pinaroo district in South Australia, and the Mallee district in Victoria, where the hardiest and most enterprising of our race are literally wringing a grudging livelihood from mother Nature. We hear much talk of the worries and tribulations of the manufacturer in New South Wales, but nothing is said of the hardships suffered by the men who use galvanized iron. It is high time that a word was said for the user, “ th_ under dog.” Of course, Senator Dunn must speak as he does, whether he believes what he says or not; he has his sealed orders which he must obey, or go out of public life. It is significant that whilst the non-Labour parties are divided on various items in this schedule, the Labour members of the Labour party invariably vote solidly. This subservience to outside control is not in accordance with the traditions of parliamentary rule. As a people, we are supposed to play the game, and to appreciate merit wherever it is found, and the wonder is that while one section, which already enjoys the beneficence of Parliament, its sympathy and succour, is clamouring for more assistance and receiving the sympathy of senators, another section, which has left the big centres of population and is courageously endeavouring to win a livelihood from the land, should plead in vain for mere justice. Why is it that the manufacturers of galvanized iron receive so much undeserved sympathy from governments from time to time, whilst more deserving people, who cannot waylay senators and organize themselves to bring pressure upon Parliament, are neglected? Since 1930, the protection of galvanized iron has been quadrupled under the British preferential tariff, and more than doubled under the general tariff. At one time, I was able to buy this commodity for from £12 to £15 a ton ; to-day, I am obliged to pay £24 a ton in order to maintain one industry in New South Wales. Every man who desires to erect a cottage or a fowlhouse has to pay tribute to this company, and the extortion has the sanction and even the benediction of Senator Dunn and his colleagues. It is time that these gentlemen inquired how the men on the land who have to pay these high prices aro faring. An impartial investigation would show that they are infinitely worse off than those secondary producers for whom the sympathy and assistance of this committee is sought by the advocates of high protection ?
One would not object so much to the high price of galvanized iron if the quality were equal to that of the imported article we used to buy. But I quote a letter from a practical plumber in Perth, to the president of the Pastoralists Association : -
Re your inquiry as to the life of galvanized iron tanks.
The tanks I built 35 years ago at Mr. Hasco’s hotel, Guildford, up to two years ago when I last saw them, were still in good condition.
I have built tanks of late with the present galvanized iron that have only stood three years before they were all holes. I can only put it down to some fault in the galvanizing.
I admit that deterioration of quality is noticeable in the imported article as well as in the local product, but it has. been infinitely greater in the latter. Galvanizing is not a difficult process, but the local manufacturers, being immune through high protection from overseas competition, have no need to defend or extend themselves. A horse that is lightly handicapped does not require to do its best to win a race. Similarly, when the handicapper in the industrial race does not know his job, certain competitors can win without fully exerting themselves. The Australian galvanized sheets soon undergo some chemical reaction covering them with a white substance which is impervious to the soldering iron ; until the sheet is filed down to the naked iron, the solder will not take. This difficulty was never experienced with the galvanized iron we were able to buy years ago. I have heard repeated complaints on this score, and I know from personal experience that they are justified. I hope that the request for a reduction of duty will be agreed to. Some people have the idea that all that is necessary to produce prosperity is to shut out goods from abroad by means of high customs duties. This policy is fashionable throughout the world. The folly of it was realized when the representatives of 25 nations met at Geneva and solemnly resolved in favour of a reduction of tariff barriers, but not one nation has honored its undertaking. Nevertheless, it is time we awakened to what is happening to our primary industries. Senator Dunn said that the number of employees in primary industries has been substantially reduced ; of course that has happened, not because of the introduction of modern machinery, but because the people who have been trying to make a livelihood in the interior have not been receiving a fair deal. The conditions imposed upon them have been so heart-breaking that many of them have gone back to the crowded cities. The result is that the output of rural industries is less than it was. But when we ask that Parliament shall hold the scales evenly between city and country, between primary producer and manufacturer, between the man who turns his back on the cities and the urban dweller, our voices are raised in vain. Is it not significant that, since the inception of federation, -the representation of Melbourne and Sydney in this Parliament has increased by 50 per cent. The representation of the country has declined, eight rural seats have been transferred to the cities. A continuance of that same policy of centralization is being advocated and applauded in this committee.
– I am surprised that the superadvocates of primary production should continually assert that nothing is done for the man on the land. During the last four years this Parliament has voted millions of pounds in hard cash’ for the assistance of the wheat-growers.
– The tariff penalizes them to the extent of many millions of pounds per annum.
– Whatever the tariff may or may not do, the assertion frequently made in this chamber - that the primary producer gets nothing and that the secondary industries are given everything - is a gross exaggeration of the facts. ‘For years, the States have distributed seed wheat and have transported starving stock at unpayable rates to help farmers who were impoverished by drought, and, in addition, large sums have been disbursed by way of bounty to primary producers generally. Senator Lynch has referred to the deterioration of the quality of galvanized iron, and has read a letter on the subject; but, as he did not state where the iron in question was manufactured, the fault may not he attributable to the local industry. Different qualities are procurable, not only of the sheet itself, but also of the galvanizing of it. Inefficient workmanship and inferior iron may be encountered in the lighter gauges; but, in the case of the 24-gauge, I believe that what is produced to-day is as satisfactory and as durable as the brands that were marketed years ago. An enormous quantity of the galvanized iron sold in this country is used for residential and other purposes in towns and cities; therefore, it cannot be said that the burden of the tariff on this item falls only on the primary producers. It appears to me that, of all the industries of a secondary character in Australia, the manufacture of metals, particularly iron and steel, should be maintained at any cost. A country that does not possess these essential industries is absolutely helpless, in the sense that it is dependent ‘ entirely upon overseas supplies. If private enter- prise cannot be entrusted with the conduct of such an industry, it should be nationalized.
– The iron and steel industry would receive a bounty of £3 10s* a ton if my request were agreed to.
– The tariff protection afforded in the case of galvanized iron has been the subject of inquiry and report, and, as laymen, compared with those who make these inquiries, we must be guided to some extent by those reports. Senator Lynch has accused us of being bound under sealed orders to vote as we- are told. But we have not been instructed to support this Government, and it has been rather painful on many occasions to do so. This and kindred industries provide employment for a large number of men, sustain a big surrounding population, and supply a want that otherwise would be supplied by a ring of importers. I have not heard one of those who denounce the iniquities of protection-made prices, attempt to- refute the contention that combines of importers raise prices and sell whatever quality they like where they have a monopoly of the marketing of any product. I am not one who believes in making Australia watertight against trade with other countries, but I do think that everything which can be done to establish essential industries should be done, and that we should see that such industries are placed on a sound basis. The employment that they give, and the population that they sustain, go a long way towards building up a local market for the primary producer. A number of causes have been responsible for the drift of population from country districts to the cities ; but I assert without fear of refutation that the principle reason why fewer labourers are now required for farming operations is that an enormous proportion of the work that at one time was done on the farm is now done in the cities and towns, where is manufactured the machinery that farmers need. Another reason is that, even when prices of primary products were good, and conditions generally were in a flourishing state, there was always the tendency to keep at a low level the remuneration of labour in the country districts. It seems to me unquestionable that, with industries of this character, there > either must be national ownership and control, or they must be given adequate protection in order that they may supply what is vitally necessary to this or any other country.
– I offer you my congratulations, Senator J. B. Hayes, on this, the first occasion that you have acted as Temporary Chairman of Committees, upon your elevation to that position.
I wish to reply to some of the criticisms of my dear friend, Sena: tor Lynch. While I was the centre of his political abuse, I fancied that I was standing on the pier “at Busselton, Western Australia, facing a monsoon from the Indian Ocean. He accused me of being a member of a political chain gang, and said that I and my colleague (Senator Rae), are under sealed orders from our masters in Sydney. I should like it to be clearly understood that the arguments adduced on the tariff by members of the Labour party are dictated by plank No. 5 of the fighting platform of that party, which is “New Protection”. In 1908, that plank was ratified at a conference of the political Labour party held in Queensland. That conference unanimously carried the following resolution : -
That this conference request the Federal Government to nationalize the iron and steel industry, instead of granting bonuses, as it considers the nationalization of such industry would be in the best interests of the Commonwealth.
Senator Lynch was a delegate to that conference ; yet he now has the effrontery to accuse honorable senators on this side of being members of a chain gang, and of acting under sealed orders. I need say no more.
. - It has been interesting to me, as a worker, but one who is not a farmer or a producer of galvanized iron, to listen to the arguments that have been advanced on behalf of both of those sections. The point that struck me was that, according to both sides, there has been a deterioration in the quality of galvanized iron. It is admitted, also, that as the result of the protection afforded to this industry, the price of galvanized iron is higher than it otherwise might have been. The cause of the deterioration has not been specified, and I suggest to the Minister in charge of the tariff (Senator McLachlan), that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research be instructed to inquire into the matter. We might then have assigned the reason for the deterioration, and learn whether the fault may ;be rectified. Such an inquiry would be of national importance, because it would pacify some of the members of the country party who are criticizing the quality of galvanized iron, and at the same time, enable Lysaght Limited to produce a quality that would give satisfaction. The manufacturers of this commodity are accused of charging exorbitant prices for it. I strongly object to any industry exploiting the public, and .if it can .be shown by Senator Lynch, or any other honorable senator, that the manufacturers are using the tariff unfairly and charging exorbitant prices, I shall support action taken to put an end to that practice.
– We should make them disgorge their undue profits.
– We should make those who are robbing the public, to pay the proceeds of their robbery into the Commonwealth coffers, so that the money might be expended on the relief of unemployment and other purposes. I hope that the members of the Country party will, during the next election campaign, show more enthusiasm than they have shown up to the present in the direction of making the manufacturers, who are exploiting the people, disgorge some of their ill-gotten gains. I object to the constant reiteration of the complaint of the members of the Country party, and lately of Senator Lynch, that the country people are suffering because of the tariff, and that many of them are being forced to the cities for the same reason.
– Many of them are retiring to the cities.
– That is quite possible. I have always contended that we should organize our primary industries, particularly the wheat, wool, meat and butter industries, in the same way as the sugar industry has been organized, and thus give the . producers the advantage of a higher internal price that would enable them to overcome many of their difficulties. If we adopted a policy of freetrade, and all classes of goods and commodities could enter this country free of duty, the demand for our wheat would not he increased by one bushel. Wheat is sold on the world’s market in open competition. There is a limited demand for it, and there is a constant outflow from the various (wheat-producing countries. At present there are 300,000,000 bushels of wheat still unsold throughout the world. If the duty on galvanized iron were reduced, not one additional bushel of wheat would be sold as a result.
– If my request were carried, the primary producers would receive in effect a bounty of £3 10s. a ton on all galvanized iron used by them.
– The honorable senator wants to rob the community in order to bolster up the manufacturers of this commodity.
– We have already paid to the manufacturers £538,000 by way of bounty.
– The honorable senator has constantly reiterated in this chamber the statement that the tariff is robbing the farmer, but the only difference between the tariff and a bounty is spread over certain sections of the community while the cost of a. bounty is spread over the whole of the community.
– The effect of the request of Senator Johnston would not be to restore the bounty at all. That could be done only by legislative action.
– It could be done by administrative action.
– A reduction of the duty on galvanized iron, as proposed by members of the Country party, would only undermine the Australian industry. The wheat industry, like every other industry, must be efficiently organized if the farmers are to receive a better return for their labours. I resent Senator Lynch’s statement that we on this side of the chamber are members of a chain gang, and that we are tied hand and foot, to city interests who are controlling our actions. My actions are not controlled by any outside influence. I am convinced that the only effect of the request of Senator Johnston would be to undermine Australian secondary industries, and that, of course, would not be likely to improve the position of the farmers.’ It is of no use to pool our misery. We have to adopt common-sense methods if we are to assist our primary producers. Senator Brennan made a cool and dispassionate speech, but in his endeavour to make his argument right he strayed from the truth. He said that we were subsidizing the galvanized iron industry for the purpose of increasing the wages of the workers in that industry, and that because the wages of the workers of Lysaght Limited have been increased, every other worker in Australia has suffered in consequence. That is an absurd argument. Senator Brennan and many of the members of the Country party seem to think that because the constituents of, say, Senator Dunn, are obtaining a higher wage than that paid to constituents of, say, Senator
Lynch,that the constituents of Senator Dunn are exploiting the constituents of Senator Lynch. That idea is entirely wrong. Under our modern system of civilization the wage fund is not static, and the amount of money expended in wages varies considerably. It does not follow that because one section of the community, through its organization, commands high wages, others, which are lower paid, are suffering as a result.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– I cannot let this item pass without making a few remarks, because I am convinced that the galvanized iron industry, centred at Newcastle, is one of the most spoon-fed industries in the oountry, and has imposed a serious handicap upon the poor people in the cities, upon everybody in country towns, and upon the primary producers throughout Australia. Honorable senators opposite have stated this afternoon that the richer people would benefit by a reduction of the price of galvanized iron, whereas they would not really be affected at all. The vast majority of people who reside in Toorak and such better-class suburbs in the capital cities, live under tile or slate roofs, and it is the wage-earner, the cottager and the primary producers who use galvanized iron. They could not, by any means, afford the expense and carriage of slates or tiles. Galvanized iron Is largely used by builders of stores and factories of all kinds. Why it is necessary to impose a duty of £4 10s. a ton on this article is beyond my comprehension. Why penalize the users of this commodity to the extent proposed by the Government when we can import it from Great Britain at about half the price charged by the monopolistic concern at Newcastle? 1 remember that, when the tariff was last being considered, representatives of the Newcastle works came to Canberra and boasted of the high wages which were being paid to their employees. I do not approve of low wages; but I do believe in some equality of sacrifice, and I know that the primary producer does not receive a net return for his labour which is comparable with that received by the workers of the iron and steel industry at Newcastle. I consider that the wages paid to the employees in primary industries are often inadequate.
– The iron workers are highly-skilled workmen.
– And for that reason deserve to be paid a good wage.
– The honorable senator would like to import galvanized iron from Great Britain at prices lower than those now charged in Australia, but that would result in the closing down of Lysaght’s works. Wbat would the honorable senator do with the workmen who were thrown out of employment?
– As a matter of hard, economic fact, it would pay Australia to close Lysaght’s and still give the employees their full wages. It is absurd to claim that this industry benefits primary producers; it is definitely a handicap on every one of them, whether he is growing wheat, tomatoes, producing wool, or breeding fowls, just as it is a handicap on the poorer section of the community who have to buy iron with which to roof their homes. ‘ The quantity of our primary products which is consumed by the employees at Newcastle is infinitesimal. In the aggregate, Australia purchases only from 10 to 12 per cent. of its wool clip and 25 per cent. of its wheat crop; and similar small percentages apply to the products of its other great primary industries.
SenatorCrawford. - We consume 60 per cent. of the butter that we produce.
– And the remaining 40 per cent. of that product has to be shipped away and sold on the markets of the world. The great bulk of our wealth comes from our land products, which have to be sold in competition with the rest of the world, with no assistance from us.
Some honorable senators claim that our primary producers benefit by protection. As Senator Lynch has said, it does not matter whether the duty on wheat is 3d. or £3 a bushel, as we import none of that grain. A similar position exists with regard to our wool, and every other commodity that we export. I notice that we. still have to import a considerable quantity of galvanized iron from Great Britain, where the f.o.b. price is about half that which rules in Australia, and British manufacturers have to bear heavy freight, exchange, landing, and other costs. As there are great supplies of first-quality coal, iron, zinc, and other raw material in Australia, it should be able, if efficiently conducted and the wages paid are reasonable, to compete with the overseas product without the assistance of a tariff; but I am in favour of some duty being imposed. Instead, the Government seeks to impose an absurdly high rate of duty. I would prefer a bounty.
We all know that there has been a serious deterioration in the quality of the galvanized iron. Although I have not imported galvanized iron for a number of years, I have had a good deal to do with the re-roofing of buildings, and it has been my experience that old imported iron has been found to be in excellent condition, after it has been in use from 30 to 40 years, while it has been necessary to renew Newcastle iron that has done service for only five or six years.
– One is galvanized steel, and the other galvanized iron.
– From a purely selfish point of view, I should be glad that the quality of the local product is inferior, and susceptible to rust, for my son is engaged in manufacturing what is definitely a rust-destroy-, ing paint; naturally, the more galvanized iron roofs show signs of deterioration, the better it is for the sale of his paint. However, as an Australian, I take a larger view, and consider it tq be a calamity for our primary producers and those who build cottages and factories that our galvanized iron is so much inferior and less resistant to rust than is the imported product. An unduly high price is charged for Australian galvanized iron, and, as I always fight for the reduction of the necessaries of life, I shall oppose any duty that will increase the cost of this article to the detriment of primary producers and others, and the advantage of a huge monopolistic concern at Newcastle which employs, comparatively speaking, only a handful of persons.
– Some honorable senators who have addressed themselves to this subject appear to be under the impression that the whole of the work connected with the fabrication of this commodity is done at Newcastle. A moment’s reflection should enable them to recall that the raw material is obtained from places far distant from that centre, the ironstone coming from Iron Knob in South. Australia, the limestone from Tasmania, and fluorspar from North Queensland.
While I admit that there has been an increase in the price of galvanized iron in recent years, I remind honorable senators, and Senator Guthrie in particular, that there has also been a substantial increase in the price of textiles, and that we cannot now purchase a good quality suit for anything like the price that we paid before the war.
I do not think that any honorable senator would seriously suggest that we should scrap our great iron and steel works, for this is an. essential industry which proved its value to the nation during the war. I understand that, at the request of the Imperial Government, the Newcastle Iron and Steel Works supplied South Africa with many thousands of tons of steel rails which were required for the successful prosecution of the war. War obligations appear to have been forgotten in many quarters, and the star of the pacifist is, temporarily, in the ascendant.
I deprecate the attacks that have been made on our secondary industries. Notwithstanding what may be said about the few persons who are engaged in this and that industry, in the aggregate those who are directly and indirectly employed in Australian secondary industries provide our primary producers with the best outlet that they have for their wares;’ is is they who constitute the local market. Some honorable senators speak as though our only land products were wheat and wool. We know that many other commodities are produced in Australia, and sold to consumers at reasonable prices.
Senator Guthrie would have honorable senators believe that the fruit industry is not protected. Some of our highest duties have been imposed in order to safeguard orchardists and vignerons.
And rightly so. On fresh fruits such as apples, peaches and pears, which come largely from Tasmania, the duty is £6 a ton, while on citrus, fruits, which are cultivated in every other State, the duty is Id. per lb., the protection on dried fruits amounting to from £40 to £50 a ton.
I remind those who favour freetrade, as a means of assisting primary producers, that the position of primary producers in New Zealand is infinitely worse than that of the man on the land in Australia. “When Senator Guthrie was speaking, I interjected that we consume 60 per cent, of the butter that is produced in Australia. New Zealand has to export 60 per cent, of its butter production, notwithstanding the fact that the per capita butter consumption in that dominion is the highest in the world, being 40 lb., as against our own 30 lb.
It would undoubtedly lead to a diminution of the consumption of many of our primary products if a number of our citizens were thrown out of employment because of a reduction of duties in accordance with the desires of some honorable senators, based upon a misapprehension regarding the effect of protection upon prices. I am quite satisfied that if this were a freetrade country, the prices charged’ for imported goods would not be very much lower than those now asked for our own. This is an essential industry. Very general satisfaction was expressed when it was announced in the press that it was intended to spend another million pounds a year on defence ; but what would he the use of having a number of trained men in this country if we could not supply them with munitions? An army without munitions would be useless, and I do not see how we could furnish them with munitions in time of war unless we could produce those munitions within our own borders. Practically every metal we need is produced in Australia. “We are fortunate in having in this country deposits of precious metals and industrial metals. If we fail to make proper use of them we shall, in due course, reap as we have sown.
Senator DOOLEY (New South Wales) siderable extent with what previous honorable senators have said in regard to this industry, especially in regard to the exploitation of the public. Taking into consideration what the Tariff Board has said in its report, it seems to me that galvanized iron could be sold at a lower price without any great sacrifice by the manufacturers. One must consider, however, the effect on employment. Senator Guthrie said that it would not matter very much to the primary . producers whether those engaged in the manufacture of galvanized iron bought produce from them or not. I remind him that, according to the last report of the board, there were 2,500 men employed in the industry, and they, with their dependants, make up about 125,000. Even that does not complete the sum, because others, including storekeepers and their employees, are partially, at any rate, dependent on those engaged in the industry, besides which we have to consider those employed in subsidiary industries. The Tariff Board suggested that, as a means of reducing the price of galvanized iron, the cost of labour, which now amounts to £11 a ton, should be reduced to £10 a ton. The board’s proposal is that the company should sacrifice 14s. a ton, and the workers £1 a ton. I am in favour of giving adequate protection to any Australian industry which provides employment for our people, even though we may be called upon to pay a little more. So far as the exploitation of the public is concerned, I believe that there are many industries in Australia which charge too much for their, products, and I have been convinced of that for a long time. Australia, however,-. , is not the only country in which ‘ manufacturers and employers are guilty of exploitation. That sort of thing goes on all over the world, and has nothing to do with protection. Senator Johnston suggested that we ‘ should revert to the system of paying a bounty on galvanized iron.
– -That is provided for in the law of the land.
– It is not the law of the land.
– Senator Johnston’s suggestion is that the burden of protecting this industry should be shifted. from the backs of one set of people to those of another. That seems to me to be a narrow view to take. Industries associated in the production of galvanized iron furnish a means of livelihood for 60,000 people. If we were to alloiw galvanized iron to be dumped into Australia from overseas, many thousands of workers would be thrown out of employment, and even that section of the community which Senator Johnston is so anxious to help would, in turn, suffer. He is concerned only with the wheat-farmers, and those on the land.
– The city workers use galvanized iron.
– Their only interest in galvanized iron is to pay rent on houses of which galvanized iron forms the roof. All Senator Johnston’s speeches in this chamber have been in favour of that section of the community which exercises a preponderance of votes in Western Australia. He is more concerned with their welfare than with that of the rest of the Commonwealth. That view is too narrow for a good senator to take. The Parliament of Australia should devote its time to matters making for the welfare of the people as a whole. If honorable senators are actuated by that purpose, they will support the Government’s proposal. It is true that the price of galvanized iron might be lower-
– The price depends on the quantity for which there is a market.
– That is true. If the manufacturers can sell only 30,000 tons of iron a year, it will cost more per ton to produce than if they were selling 100,000 tons. There is, however, only one way of increasing the market for galvanized iron, and that is to find employment for our people. We shall certainly not provide a market for 100.000 tons of iron a year by throwing an extra 2,500 persons out of work. There is no justification for Senator Johnston’s proposal, and I cannot support it.
– It seems to me that, after one and a half hour’s discussion of this subject, we are still a long way from taking the vote which Senator J. B. Hayes indicated was imminent some time ago. I understood that the Senate was going to sit all night to-night, but during the afternoon somebody evidently arranged that, instead of doing that, we should meet again next week. As a result, Senator Payne and Senator Johnston will, I have no doubt, furnish a lot more propaganda for the freetraders and antiprotectionists league. Those honorable senators may be good fellows in their own State, but they are not good fellows to Australia as a whole.
– I have met many Queenslanders who are opposed to high tariffs.
– No doubt there are some in Queensland, but I am broadminded enough to take whatever is coming to me from the little Australians. By keeping industries such as this in operation we are helping to create a bigger market for practically all our primary products, meat, butter, sugar, tropical fruits, and others. Wool-raising is, perhaps, the only primary industry in Australia which is entirely selfsupporting. Most of the others are bolstered up in some way. Our only hope, therefore, is to provide a still bigger local market for those other primary products, of which already approximately 85 per cent. is consumed within Australia. I believe earnestly in the maintenance of Australian industries, and in the creation of new ones, no matter on whose toes we may tread. I am not concerned about the Japanese at all. If we should have regard to any one overseas, it should be our kinsmen in Britain, but even the British manufacturers do not buy our wool because they love us. They buy it because they want it, and because they cannot get better elsejwhere. There is, of course, some idea of reciprocity, but, according to recent debates in. the House of Commons, the British people expect a full quid pro quo.
I spent a year in London at one time, and gained some idea of the attitude of English people towards Australia and Australians. If an Englishman in England asks you where you come from, it is of no use saying Victoria or New South Wales, or Queensland, or Tasmania, because he will simply ask you where that may be. You must say that you come from Australia. So self-absorbed are the people of Britain, and so wide flung their interests, that Australia is but a small circumstance in their calculations which deal with big countries and large populations beyond the confines of the Empire. For many years the Labour party has fostered an Australian sentiment, and for 25 years it has held the view that industries like the iron industry should be nationalized. The best way to foster that sentiment is to have an Australian brand of industry and politics. Because of my experience abroad, I have long appreciated the lines of “ Banjo “ Paterson, who, in The Old Australian Ways, expressed the thoughts of an Australian returning to his own land, as the ship on which he sailed from Britain proceeded down the English Channel -
And down the Channel, groping blind,
We drive her through the haze
Towards the land we left behind -
The good old land of “never mind,”
And old Australian ways.
.- I support the request that has been submitted by Senator Johnston. “ The report of the Tariff Board shows that the people are paying more than they ought tobe charged for galvanized iron, which is so essential to primary producers, and also for the construction of the houses of the poorer people. Senator Dooley remarked that the community as a wholeshouldbear the burden of the protection afforded to this industry.
– In the final analysis they do.
– No ; the burden falls mainly on the primary producers, who cannot pass on the cost of protection. They belong to the class that is least able to bear such a burden. We should do whatever we can to reduce the cost of the things that the farmers need for carrying on their industries, because they have to sell their goods in the face of world competition. In some directions, the report of the Tariff Board is of a very scathing nature in its references to the monopolistic company which manufactures galvanized iron in Australia. The board said that if the industry paid not more than the federal basic wage, it could reduce the price of galvanized iron by nearly £2 a ton.
– By £1 4s. a ton.
– I think the amount is nearer £2 than £1. We find that the selling of the iron is entrusted by the manufacturers to another company, which also gets a cut of about £1 a ton, so that on the basis of an annual output of 60,000 tons, the primary producers and other users of this commodity have to bear an additional burden of £60,000 a year. In the course of its remarks, the board stated -
It must not be overlooked, however, that a low sale price for galvanized iron is of very great value to the community generally. Galvanized iron is undoubtedly the best material yet produced for many purposes, particularly for use in rural and mining industries. . . .
In its report on the galvanized iron industry, dated 15th April, 1931, the board estimated that an output of 60,000 tons per annum from the local works was an early possibility. Sales of galvanized iron throughout Australia during the first five months of the year were at the rate of 60,000 tons per annum, and since prices were reduced on 1st February, 1932, sales have exceeded the rate of 60,000 tons per annum. It seems reasonably certain that the demand for 60,000 tons per annum will be maintained, and in the circumstances the board, when considering local selling prices, feels justified in eliminating from consideration selling prices based on production at rates lower than 60,000 tons per annum. On this output the board has. estimated that a reasonable selling price would be £24 8s.10d. per ton, while wages remain as at present, and £22 14s.11d. per ton if wages are reduced to conform with the existing federal basic wage. . . .
It has already been shown that if wages in the galvanized iron industry were based on the federal basic wage, the reasonable selling price of locally manufactured iron could be reduced by approximately £1 14s. per ton. A margin of protection, which under present conditions would enable the local manufacturers to include in their selling prices the extra £5 4s. per ton mentioned in the preceding paragraph, would, if wages were reduced as suggested, permit the inclusion in the selling price of an extra £6 18s. per ton. . . .
The present rate of duty is practically prohibitive, and has been responsible for sheltering in one State the unreasonable conditions described, at the expense of the people of the Commonwealth.
That quotation in regard to a reduction of price shows that my recollection of the matter was rather better than that of Senator Dooley. It may be said that 60,000 tons could reasonably be taken as the basis on which to estimate the cost of production. The board was not too pleased with the way in which the industry was conducted.
– But it made a close examination ofthe company’s operations.
– Yes, . and the only two witnesses who gave evidence in favour of the retention of the present duties were the managing director of John Lysaght, Australia, Limited, and Mr. J. K. Merritt, who was a director of what I take to be the distributing company. The former gave his address as 33 Macquarieplace, Sydney, and the other as 24 Queenstreet, Melbourne, although each described his company as manufacturers of galvanized iron. In support of the reduction of the duties, were a number of witnesses who are not directly interested in the maintenance or the reduction of the duties; but nearly all of them are associated with the primary producers, or other users of galvanized iron, and in that respect they may be considered to be interested in the reduction of the duties-. A reasonable tariff is all that is required.
– I wish to correct an impression which may have been created by Senator Dunn regarding myself. He referred to the Labour conference that was held in Brisbane in 1908, at which I was present. Beading from the reports of the conference, and considering the action that I took on that occasion in conjunction with my contribution to this debate, he asked the committee to believe that my present attitude to the policy of protection was inconsistent. All that I have to say is that I was present at that conference, and that I did all the things which he has attributed to me; but the attitude of the Labour party to the policy of protection is different now from what it was in 1908. Although the “new” protection was the acknowledged policy of the Labour party in those days, and was agreed to after the passing of the 1903 tariff, it was found on appeal, in the famous McKay case, to be unconstitutional, and it remains unconstitutional to this day. The essence of the “ new “ protection was that, when a duty was imposed, the interests of both the workers and the consumers were to be taken into account; but that condition has not been observed. An attempt has been made to put that policy into operation, and it /has failed. The difference between the policy of protection which I supported at that time, and to which I still adhere, and the present policy of the Labour party was brought about when that party passed a resolution to embody in its platform the policy of unqualified protection, which is Labour’s policy to-day. When I was a member of the Labour party, it embraced freetraders such as Mr. Fowler, the former member for Perth, and ex-Senator Gardiner, of New South Wales. If those gentlemen happened to be members of the Labour party to-day, they would certainly be expelled.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– Senator Lynch made a number of statements which, in the interests of accuracy, require an answer, and I regret that he is not now in the chamber. The honorable senator admits all that Senator Dunn said in regard to the part taken by him at the Labour conference, held in Brisbane in 1908, but he claims that the position is now entirely different from what it was then. He did not deny that in 1908 he advocated the new protection, but he added that the decision of the High Court in the McKay case prevented the principles embodied in that policy from being given effect, and that since then the Labour party has become merely an advocate of high protective duties. I do n®t see why the benefits of the new protection- should not be obtained by governmental action. We have a Tariff Board which reports on the various factors which either justify a high duty or do not justify it ; and, consequently, if fair conditions of labour and equitable treatment of consumers are not provided for in the conduct of any enterprise, it is open to the Government to remove the tariff protection granted to the industry in the belief that it would act fairly. Although, technically, we cannot get behind the decision of the High Court and prescribe the rates which shall be paid to the wage-earners on the one hand, and: the prices to be charged to consumers on the other hand, the same result can be achieved indirectly by the method which I have mentioned. I notice that Senator Lynch has now entered the chamber, and I take this opportunity to remind him that, so far as the new protection is concerned, the policy of the Labour party is the same as when he was a member of the party, and advocated the new tariff policy.
– There was no compulsion then, as there is now.
SenatorRAE. - The honorable senator pledged himself, as every other member of the Labour party has done for the last 40 years, to abide by the Labour party’s platform. That platform was the same last year as it was fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five years ago when Senator Lynch fought hard against being driven out of the party. I was present when he severed his connexion with the Labour movement, and I know that he went out of it against his will.
– I was duly expelled, and that is all there is to say on that matter.
SenatorRAE. - There is a tendency on the part of any firm or company which has practically a monopoly in any industry to exploit the public, unless some restraint is placed upon it. Should that exploitation amount to a scandal, immediate action should be taken by the Government, preferably by means of an inquiry into the ramifications of the industry, in order to see whether or not the consuming public has been unfairly dealt with. That might cause some expenditure of public money, but it would be worth while if it cleared up the position. I am no friend of exploiters, and I would welcome any action by this or any other government to deal with them whenever there is a reasonable suspicion that the public or the wage-earners are being unfairly treated by them. The present economic system is based on the desire for profit. So long as profits are made, competitors may be forced to the wall and the public fleeced ! Unfortunately, under the present social system, there is no way to prevent such things from happening. The Government, however, may well consider dealing with glaring examples of exploitation.
SenatorBRENNAN (Victoria) [8.10]. -SenatorRae says that he is no friend of the system which enables monopolies to obtain privileges from Parliament, and to exploit the general community. Our opposition to these extravagant duties is based on the knowledge that they lead to the very thing of which SenatorRae complains. On the other hand, Senator Eae and those who think with him, approve of high duties because they almost imperceptibly lead to that state of things which he desires to see established. A well known economist, writing almost a century ago - I admit that he was a freetrader - said that he looked upon protectionism, socialism, and communism as separate branches of the same tree in different stages of growth.
SenatorCrawford. - Destroy the first, and you have one of the others.
SenatorBRENNAN.- The views of the learned economist to whom I have referred will survive long after Senator Crawford’s utterances have “been forgotten. The remarks of SenatorRae give force to the truth underlying the economist’s statement. Senator Rae would introduce a system under which Parliament would grant duties and appoint supervisors to see that the workers were properly paid and that the revenue was not defrauded, and generally would institute a state of affairs which would usher in that happy state of affairs, to which he and his party of two look forward.
SenatorRae. - The honorable senator would allow freetraders to exploit the public without hindrance.
SenatorBRENNAN.- The more fetters we place upon commerce, the more we play into the hands of the exploiters, whereas the greater the freedom allowed, the less chance there is of exploitation. I object to these extremely high duties because they make for monopolies.
Question - That the request (Senator E. B. Johnston’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator the Hon. herbert Hays.)
Majority . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Item 152, sub-item (cl, 2) (Wrought iron and malleable cast-iron fittings).
– I have received a letter from Andrew Thomson and Scougall Limited, a firm established in 1852 which is engaged in the manufacture of malleable cast-iron fittings, from which I quote the following : -
The position is that the Scullin tariff gave us the whole of the business at a time when there was very little business. The recent alteration made about last September by the Lyons Government reduced the amount of protection to less than half the previous figure. The position is that where we had1s. and 1s. 6d., we now have 5d. and 8d., and where on black fittings we had 9d. and1s., we now have 4d. and 7d. I enclose herewith a copy which we have just obtained showing the imports under this item just before and for the seven months after September, when the reduction of duty was made. The large figure for October would be caused by fittings being taken out of bond, and the main importations start about January. The real significance of these figures is that more than half of this trade has been given away, and instead of benefiting by the increase in the building trade our figures are actually falling, that no one benefits in any way except the actual importer, that the business which has been given away would employ 200 people all the year round who would actually be making better fittings than those imported, and that local manufacturers are now prevented from obtaining that volume of business which would enable them to carry out the progressive reduction of prices promised to the Tariff Board. When it is remembered that due to the proper protection of this industry by the Scullin Government the consumer has been buying his fittings from 10 to12½ per cent. cheaper than ever before, that it is an industry peculiarly suitable to Australia, using entirely Australian materials which are particularly well adapted for it, there is no basis in common sense for giving this business away.
Earlier in the debate Senator Brennan said that honorable senators on this side did not submit figures in support of their arguments. For the information of the committee I quote the following, showing the imports from October to April under the reduced duties: -
This is only a small item, but those figures show the effect of the reduced duties upon the local industry and the extent to which they are playing into the hands of the importers. I should like the Minister (Senator McLachlan) to supply some information on the subject.
– The duties under this item were increased by the previous Government, and the matter was referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry. The board has submitted its report, and, with the exception of the Ottawa agreement formula adjustment, has recommended the imposition of the duties now operating. The board stated that the rates fixed by the previous Government were ‘unduly high, and represented protection up to 190 per cent. Malleable fittings are imported mainly from Switzerland and Germany, and the present general tariff rate of 8d. per lb., represents approximately 65 per cent. On the facts submitted to the Tariff Board this rate should be sufficient under present conditions to protect the local manufacturers. The importations have decreased since 1928. Those from Great Britain for 1931-32 totalled 624 cwt., valued at £3,883, and from Switzerland, 375 cwt., valued at £2,424.
Sub-item agreed to.
Churns of all kinds; cheese presses; dairy coolers; pasteurizers; jacketed vats or jacketed tanks lined or unlined, including those fitted with agitators or stirrers, capable of use as pasteurizers or coolers or as storage receptacles; enamelled vats or tanks not jacketed, ad val., British,22½ per cent.; general, 40 per cent.
– This item covers churns of all kinds, cheese presses, dairy coolers, and pasteurizers which are dutiable at ad val., British, 22½ per cent. ; and general, 42 per cent. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, ad valorem, British, free; general, . 20 per cent.
Honorable senators will agree that the dairying industry which provides a good deal of employment should be assisted in every way possible. The dairymen of Australia have scientifically and practically gone to a good deal of trouble to provide the people with pure food. They have done all in their power to improve their herds and pastures, and also to increase the output of their dairy farms. Only in this morning’s paper I read a telegram from Hobart inwhich the Premier of Tasmania states that there has been in Tasmania, an increase of 38,000 acres in the area under clover, of 53,000 boxes of butter, in the choicest grades of butter for shipment of from 7½ to 91 per cent., and in the number of dairy cows of 14,000. If butter is to be successfully marketed it is absolutely essential to produce the choicest grade. In November last, when butter was selling in’ London at about 96s. per cwt., dairymen and factory managers were induced to increase their output; but by the time their butter was marketed in London the price ruling varied from68s. to 70s. per cwt. The factories were therefore compelled to reduce the price paid for butter-fat to 7½d. or 8d. per lb. A factory that wishes to produce first-grade butter must have pasteurizers which are expensive to purchase, and which are continually being improved. The pasteurizers made some years ago were of wood, but in consequence of developments in their manufacture the dairymen had, at great expense, to dispense with those they were using and purchase others lined with glass or enamel, nominally for the purpose of cleanliness. Owing to pasture improvement by the growth of clover, there has been, in some cases, slight deterioration in the quality of butter caused by what is known as clover taint which has to be overcome by the use of Flash pasteurizers. Pasteurization is done by heating the milk to a high temperature, and then cooling it rapidly. In the Flash pasteurizers, the cream is run oyer tubes con taining brine from the freezers, and reduced in temperature very rapidly, which assists in the production of first quality butter. As the factories have to pay out to the suppliers every penny they can get, they are up against it in endeavouring to purchase new pasteurizers, which, therefore, should be made as cheap as possible.
SenatorMcLachlan. - Where are they obtained ?
– I do not know where they are manufactured, but the duties on pasteurizers are, ad valorem, British, 22½ per cent., and general, 40 per cent. I know of one factory - there are others - which has to make calls upon the suppliers to enable it to install modern machinery, and, after the calls have been met, the factory cheques are so small that the suppliers have not got enough to live on. Every one will agree that thisis an industry that should be assisted. It is one in which those engaged in it, including the dairyman, his wife, and his family, work very long hours in an endeavour to make a living. In these circumstances,we should help them all we can, and I therefore suggest that pasteurizers should be admitted from the United Kingdom free of duty.
.- The Tariff Board has reported upon the articles covered by this item. Churns were reported upon on the 12th May, 1931, and the remainder of the items except cheese presses were considered by the board in 1932. The only alterations from the 1921-30 tariff are an increase of the general tariff by 5 per cent. to conform with the Ottawa agreement formula, and a reduction of the duties on enamelled vats or tanks not jacketed from British 40 percent., general 60 per cent. to British 22½ per cent., and general 40 per cent. The previous Government increased , the duty on these goods, with the exception of hand churns and cheese presses, to British 45 per cent., and general 60 per cent. The question of the necessity for the duties was referred to the Tariff Board, and the board has submitted two reports, one covering “ churns other than hand churns “, and the other covering the balance of the articles with the exception of cheese presses. The Tariff Board stated that the Australian-made churns are efficient, and of high quality. Approximately 83 per cent. of the materials used are of local origin, the imported material being kauri pine from New Zealand. Labour costs represent a considerable proportion of the total costs. The reasons advanced by the board for no increase of duties were -
The board, in its report on the balance of the goods in this item, showed that somewhat similar conditions obtained, In connexion with pasteurizers, the board points out that -
In view of these facts, I should like to know what the honorable senator requires. Prior to the depression, only £1,771 worth of these goods were imported from the United Kingdom, and £33,318 worth from the United States of America out of total importations valuedat £55,570. Our imports of churns from Denmark are more than three times, in excess of those from the United Kingdom. In 1929-30 our purchases from the United Kingdom of these articles amounted to £1348. According to the board’s report, the industry is highly efficient, and there is no suggestion that the prices charged are unduly high.
– I hope that the committee will not agree to the request submitted by Senator J. B. Hayes. The effect of these duties on dairymen in Tasmania is negligible. It is only recently that, owing to the falling off in the mainland demand for hops, lucerne hay and other forms of Tasmanian primary production, primary producers in that State have given their attention to dairying, which is principally confined to the Derwent Valley and the northern portion of the island. The industry is well established in Victoria, and in the south and north coast districts of New South Wales, as well as on the Atherton Tablelands, in Queensland. New Zealand kauri pine is used in the manufacture of staves for churns, and the blades and other parts are made in Sydney and Melbourne. I have every respect for the views of Senator J. B. Hayes on subjects affecting rural industries; but I am inclined to believe that, in this matter, interested parties have taken advantage of his political benevolence, and have persuaded him that a reduction of the duty will mean the salvation of the newly-established dairying industry in Tasmania.
– That statement is quite incorrect.
– Then I withdraw it unreservedly. If the honorable senator will visit any of the butter factories in the dairying districts of New South Wales he will, I am sure, be convinced that the metal manufacturing industry in this country is quite capable of supplying all the machinery requirements of our dairy farmers. I suppose the honorable senator really does know what a cheese press is.
– Oh, yes.
– Then, if the honorable senator will visit the dairying districts of Bodalla and Kameruka, in New South Wales, he will see in those wellknown factories cheeses, similar to those which secured first prize and awards of merit at the Wembley exhibition. These cheeses, I should add, axe produced in Australian-made cheese presses. Dairycoolers, which consist of an arrangement of pipes used in connexion with the brine process, are extensively used in all our meat works, as well as butter factories; and practical demonstrations during the last 30 years have proved that Australian engineers are quite capable of meeting all Australian requirements in this respect, as well as manufacturing jacketed vats or jacketed tanks, lined or unlined, fitted with agitators or stirrers. Senator J. B. Hayes should know that the Australian Glass Company is giving complete satisfaction in the manufacture of glass lined vats and tanks used, not only in connexion with the production of butter, but also for the transport of cream and milk by road or rail. It is well known that the process of enamelling originated in Germany, and later was adopted by the well-established English firm of Wright Brothers, of Birmingham, which did an important trade in these goods with Australia and New Zealand. Now these enamelled vats or tanks, not jacketed, are being manufactured by a Mascot firm, Metters Limited, which gives employment to approximately 2,000 men. I believe that a Victorian firm is also giving its attention to the production of these goods. As a young man I was for some years employed in the dairying industry, so I have some knowledge of the every-day work on dairy farms. I also realize the importance of giving adequate protection to the metal trades, so as to ensure the manufacture in this country of all the requirements for the various forms of primary production, and especially the dairying industry.If the necessary standard of efficiency is not attained in the metal trades, we cannot expect our manufacturers to produce efficient machinery for. our dairy farmers. I trust that the committee will not grant this request.
Question - That the request (Senator J. B. Hayes’) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Items 168 (b1, 2) and 170 (a2a, b, c) agreed to.
Item 172, sub-item (b) -
Clothes wringers for household use, ad valorem, British, 40 per cent.; general, 60 per cent.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, ad valorem, British, 12½ per cent.
The Tariff Board’s report and recommendation dated the 21st October, 1931, upon clothes wringers for household use, is one of the most amazing documents I have read, having regard to the evidence upon which it was based. We have heard much of the slogan, “ Buy British “. But if an Australian manufacturer who, at the time of his application to the Tariff Board was not producing wringers, could obtain from that body a recommendation for a prohibitive duty, the slogan becomes a pathetic and sorry jest; it is hypocrisy of the worst sort, and we would do better if we entirely discarded that sentiment instead of giving mere lip service to it. No doubt, all honorable senators have received a good deal of correspondence in regard to this item from Acme Wringers Limited, Glasgow, and I do not wonder; if I had as good a case as has this oldestablished firm of world-wide repute, I too would have been at painsto state it to the members of this legislature. The Tariff Board reported -
At present no one is employed in the production of wringers, but if the requirements of the market were met by local production, employment would be given to from 25 to 30 workers.
Again the board said -
If the required protection is granted, the factory is in a position to execute all orders without delay. Additional capital is available, and, if necessary, additional plant would be installed within a few weeks.
The applicant produced before the board a sample wringer which was an absolute copy of the Acme machine. Apparently, the intention was to get as near as possible to the imported machine with the intention of deceiving the buyer, because even the colour of the paper on the roller was the same as that on the Acme. The applicant must have been uncertain of his legal position, because he consulted a King’s Counsel on the subject, and I believe that a case is now pending. The sample was intended to convince the board of what the applicant could produce - at a price - provided that the British manufacturers, who have specialized in this business, and have a world-wide connexion, were so handicapped by the duty as to be nimble to sell their machines competitively on the Australian market T have always contended that this Parliament should endeavour to get back .to the 1921-30 tariff, and less than two years ago, I believed that to be the objective of the party to which I belong. The proposed duty of 12$ per cent, on British machines is the same as that provided in the 1921- 30 tariff. The conclusions of the Tariff Board are most interesting and informative : for instance -
The hoard is of opinion that the industry under consideration is worthy of encouragement, and that the provision in the customs tariff of duties which will give adequate protection under existing conditions-;-
By adequate protection, the board means prohibition, and might as well say so. We have listened to a lot of “ sob stuff “ about starving men, women and children, and I am justified, therefore, in asking the committee to give some consideration to the sentimental aspect of this unreasonable impost. Wringers should be in every home, particularly . in every house in which the housewife has to do her own work. Before the exchange rose to 25 per cent, and the 10 per cent, primage was imposed, the Acme wringer was being sold at 39s. 6d. To-day, the retail cut price is 58s. 6d. ; the machine Cannot be sold remuneratively at less than 58s. 6d.
The 40 per cent, duty is practically prohibitive. Either housewives will have to pay more for this convenience, or sales of wringers will fall almost to vanishing point. Those who will suffer most will be the housewives of the labouring and middle classes. I am sick and tired of the hypocritical assertion that these duties are imposed to provide employment for Australians. If we intend the tariff to be prohibitive, let us say so frankly. The market for wringers in this sparsely populated continent is limited, and if the local manufacture is to be encouraged by excessive protection, another monopoly similar to that in galvanized iron will develop. I was one of those deluded persons who believed that some good would come out of the Ottawa agreement, and that the treaty would be honoured in the spirit as well as in the letter. The duty proposed on this item is quite contrary to the spirit of Ottawa. What rate of duty would be fair to the British manufacturer who has developed this market, and1 whose employees are amongst the overseas consumers of Australian produce?” What would be fair to the Australian industry, assuming that there is any prospect of making wringers successfully in Australia? What would be fair tothe Australian public, and particularly to the Australian housewife? Even if the Government should decide that it isnecessary for this industry to be established, it can give employment directly to not more than 25 or 30 persons. Forthe sake of providing that employment, are we to penalize practically every housewife in Australia? I submit that it is not a fair or a reasonable proposition. I should say that the original duty of 12$ per cent, ought to be adequate,, because, in addition, there is the protection afforded by exchange, which would! raise to about 50 per cent, the margin of preference in favour of the local manufacturer. Then, the British manufacturer has to “ stand Sam “ in regard to freight, insurance, primage, special packing, and other charges. If that is not: sufficient, I do not think that the proposed industry is worthy of consideration. The wringer which, prior to 1930,. was sold in nearly all the large stores in Sydney and Melbourne for 39s., was-priced in a large store in Melbourne three? or four weeks ago at 58s. 6d., the difference being due to the increase of duty, exchange, and other charges. In order that employment may be provided for from 25 to 30 persons, Australian housewives will have to pay approximately from £8,000 to £10,000 a year more for wringers, and will thus have that much less to spend on other necessaries. I hope, therefore, that the committee will agree to the reversion to the 1921-30 tariff. The Glasgow firm which manufactures the wringer th.at is most widely used in Australia specializes in its production, and has a wonderful plant that is capable of turning out large quantities. If we give it the opportunity to trade in Australia under profitable conditions, the housewives of this country will reap the benefit. It would be rather absurd to establish this industry for the manufacture of only one particular line. I submit that, as this is a labour-saving machine that makes housework easier, quicker, and more efficient, the price that Australian women would have to pay in order that the industry might be established in this country is too great to ask them to bear.
– As Senator Sampson has pointed out, higher duties were imposed ‘ on the recommendation of the Tariff Board. Although the manufacture of these goods was not undertaken to a large extent at the time of the inquiry, the board was satisfied that their production on a commercial basis was within the scope of Australian manufacturers. The board had to take a chance in forming an opinion as to what might happen, and as to whether, if it recommended the increased duties, the Australian manufacturers would live up to the undertakings and the assurances they had given. Subsequent events have justified the conclusion at which it arrived.
An all-metal wringer equal in quality to the British all-metal wringer is to-day selling retail, ‘inclusive of sales tax, at 7s. less than the British wringer. The increased duty on this wringer represents 7s. Should the extra cost due to exchange be deducted, the prices would be approximately the same. The whole of the parts are of Australian manufacture.
There are at least five Austraiian firms manufacturing household clothes wringers, each concentrating on a different type. Users are, therefore, well catered for, as Australian wringers are available from the cheapest to the best at prices that compare very favorably with those charged for imported wringers prior to the imposition of the increased duties. Australian wringers are to-day available at from 22s. 9d. to 52s. 6d. each retail, while the present-day retail prices of wringers imported from the United Kingdom are from 35s. to 59s. 6d. each. Australian wringers are, therefore, sold at from 12s. 3d. to 7s. each less than the imported wringers. The extra duty represents from 2s. 8d. to 7s. each, so it will be seen that the Australian manufacturers are not taking a’dvantage of the duties in determining their selling prices. Although these differences in prices exist, the wringers are not in some cases comparable, as United Kingdom and Australian types differ in design.
Several of the local manufacturers were not in full productionuntil the commencement of last winter, but departmental investigations which have been instituted in connexion with these duties show that 4,750 wringers were manufactured during the year 1932. Production for the first three months of the present year has been at the rate of approximately 5,000 per annum. The sale of these goods is a seasonal one, and is made chiefly in the winter months. It is anticipated that, with the increased demand during the present winter, this rate of manufacture will be exceeded. Although these figures relate to actual production, Australian manufacturers are in a position to cater for the whole of the normal demand, which was estimated by the Tariff Board to be in the vicinityof from 12,000 to 16,000 per annum.No difficulty has been experienced’ during the last twelve months in meeting all orders received. Unfortunately, clothes wringers are not shown separately in the figures relating to importations. During the year 1928-29, however, the imports of mangles, clotheswashing machines, and clothes wringers, for household use, were valued at £18,720 from the United Kingdom, and £28,941 from the United States of America. In 1929-30, the imports from the United Kingdom were valued at £14,415, and from the United States of America at £44,133.
Senator Sampson suggested that clothes wringers are not made in Australia. If he will read more closely the report of the Tariff Board, he will find that they are. Mr. McGain stated in evidence that during the previous three years they were produced at the rate of two machines a week. Mr. W. Y. Cashmore, on behalf of Nicholls and Company, stated -
Several Victorian manufacturers have unsuccessfully attempted the manufacture of wringers. In 1925, Nicholls and Co. made from 100 to 200 of a cheap design, at a loss. In following years, they made further attempts, but found that they could not compete with the imported wringers.
Mr. A. Nicholls, director of Nicholls and Company, put it that if a larger output were assured it should be possible to reduce his prices. The departmental officers have reported to the, Minister that that is exactly what has occurred. He went on to say -
The all-metal wringer has not yet been plaqed on the market as the question of undertaking the manufacture of quantities was dependent on the duty imposed on imported wringers. On present indications the price to consumers would be no higher than the prices being paid for imported wringers, and it is proposed to sell at the same c.i.f. price in all capital cities in the Commonwealth. Assuming that negotiations for extra capital are successful, it is anticipated that in three or four months the firm would be producing wringers at the rate of 200 per week.
-They have not yet obtained that capital.
– At all events, five different firms have been producing wringers in Australia, and when the investigation was made by the departmental officers, the production was at the rate of 5,000 a year. Apparently, Nicholls and Company built their wringer to the design of the Acme model 50. The board makes the following comments at page 5 of its report: -
Attempts have been made from time to time to establish the industry in Australiabut without success. In 1915, Mr. J. McGain, of Marrickville, New South Wales, commenced manufacturing wringers, and during the war, when supplies of overseas wringers Were difficult to obtain, he was supplying nearly the whole of the requirements of New South Wales. On the resumption of normal trading with overseas countries after the war, the business dwindled, and in the last three years he has been manufacturing at the rate of only, two machines per week.
The board was sensible of the position in which it might place the country, and at page 6 went on to say -
The representative of Nicholls and Company stated in evidence that provided satisfactory arrangements could be made for additional capital, the firm would be able to produce wringers at the rate of 200 per week.
Senator Elliott says thatthey have not yet obtained the necessary capital. It would appear, however, that some one else has done so. The board continued -
As to the cheaper wringers, Mr. McGain assured the board that he would be in a position to execute all orders without delay. The two manufacturers concerned are, in the opinion of the board, quite capable between them of supplying wringers to meet Australian requirements as to quantity, quality, and types.
The board pointed out that Nicholls and Company proposed to charge 38s. each for “ Austral “ wringers delivered into store in all capital cities, and that they had given the assurance that such price would not be exceeded. It then added -
The board recognizes that the proposed selling price of 38s. is higher than the cost at which the competitive imported wringer ( “ Acme model 50 “ ) can be similarly delivered under the existing duty of12½ per cent. British preferential tariff, and with normal rate of exchange, and that, this being so, the proposed price will represent an added cost to users under normal conditions. However, the board confidently anticipates that as the output of the firm increases as the result of the duties now being recommended, they should, by lessening costs of production, be able to reduce their price appreciably. The board understands that the firm is so arranging distribution of its machines as to reduce distributing costs to a minimum. A similar position should also result in the case of the cheaper wringers manufactured by Mr. McGain.
It is obvious that the Tariff Board had to apply that practical acumen and common sense which should attend the deliberations of men entrusted with such inquiries in deciding whether it was worth while to give this small industry a chance to become firmly established. The board came to that conclusion after having definitely examined the industry from the point of view, not only of the consumer, but also of Australia generally.
I have already indicated that the board was satisfied as to the quality and price of these wringers. This is a small industry, but at all events it helps to absorb a certain quantity of Australian material.
– How does this duty fit in with the Ottawa agreement?
– The question of wringers was not introduced or discussed at the Ottawa Conference. This industry came into being under the wing of the report of the Tariff Board. It is operating satisfactorily from the point of view of the department, and it will have to be referred back to the Tariff Board for examination in the light of the Ottawa agreement.
– How many persons are employed in the industry?
– That information is not known to the department. This item, like every other item, has to stand the test of the Ottawa principle. The industry was started during the war, but soon crumbled. It was again started, and has since operated satisfactorily. For the reasons that I have given, I urge the committee at this stage not to press for a reduction of duty.
– I did not take part in the debate on galvanized iron, because I appreciated the fact that no attempt was being made by the Government to rush the tariff through this chamber, and that it was undesirable for honorable senators simply to rise in their places and to repeat one another’s statements. But I rise on this occasion to protest against the absolutely unfair manner in which Senator Sampson presented his case. During his speech he did not make one original remark. He evidently knows nothing whatever of this industry, and he obtained the whole of his information from a letter, a copy of which I have in my hand.
– That is utterly incorrect.
– The letter is from a firm, not of manufacturers, but of importing agents in Melbourne.
– I rise to a point of order. Senator Collings has stated that the only information that I have on this item was obtained from a letter a copy of which he has in his possession. That statement is absolutely incorrect, and it is presumption on his part to suggest that he knows where I obtained my information. I have been closely studying the industry for the last eighteen months.
– The honorable senator has not raised a point of order.
– I hope that allowance is made for the time during which I have had to resume my seat while, for purposes of obstruction, Senator Sampson has raised a point of order.
– I take exception to the statement that I raised a point of order for purposes of obstruction. That statement is offensive to me, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– I ask Senator Collings to withdraw the remark to which exception has been taken.
– If my innocent remark is offensive to Senator Sampson, I have much pleasure in withdrawing it, because it is nothing compared with what I hope to get away with before I have finished my remarks.
– If the honorable senator, by stating that he hopes to get away with certain statements, is intimating that he intends to take action not in accordance with the Standing Orders, I shall ensure that he does no such thing.
– I meant nothing of the kind. I did not say that Senator Sampson quoted only from the letter in question. I said that he obviously had no knowledge of the industry, and did not make one original “remark regarding it. Of course he also quoted from the report of the Tariff Board, but any one could have done that. I have in my possession a letter which I have carefully read, and which contains practically every statement Senator Sampson made. It is from Chaleyer and Company Proprietary Limited, a firm of importers, which I have known since 1888. It is not Australian, and has no Australian sentiment in its make-up; nor is it interested in this country, except to the extent to which it can sell its imported goods to the community. Senator Sampson has said that he has studied this industry for the last eighteen months, but it was obvious from his speech that he did not know that there are five firms in Australia making wringers. He also stated that 25 or 30 operatives could supply the whole of Australia’s requirements of wringers. Although there are five factories in Australia making these wringers, he asked this committee to believe that they are employing only from 25 to 30 men. Yet in the same breath he said that if honorable senators did not agree to his request, the housewives of Australia would have to contribute £10,000 in the increased cost of wringers. But. even supposing, for the sake of argument, that only 25 or 30 men could supply Australia’s requirements, that would by no means affect our position. How many more times is it necessary for us to say that we on this side of the chamber put Australia first? I prefer to keep 25 Australians employed on the manufacture of wringers, rather than to provide employment to the same number of men in Czechoslovakia, Denmark, the United States of America, or Great Britain. The first concern of the Labour party in this chamber is to employ our own people, even if it means the loss of employment to workers overseas. I have no lack of sympathy for the unemployed in other parts of the world, but we are paid by the taxpayers of this country to solve the unemployment problem, not of other countries, but of Australia. Our job is to look after our own workers, and, apparently, it is the job of Senator Sampson and his friends to look “after the interests of the overseas workers. I hope that the request of Senator Sampson will not be endorsed by this chamber.
.- Senator Collings, instead of putting forward sound reasons which would have justified me in altering my decision to support the request, has made statements which are quite contrary to the evidence given before the -Tariff Board. I shall support the request of Senator Sampson for several reasons. The first is that it will make a wider differentiation between the British preferential and the foreign tariff. The Minister in charge of the bill gave details of the importations of these and similar articles during 1928- 29 and 1929-30. According to his figures the value of the importations from the United Kingdom was in 1928-29, £18,720 ; and in 1929-30, £14,000; a decrease of over £3,000. At the same time, the value of our importations from the United States of America was in 1.928-29, £28,900; and in 1929-30, £44,000; an increase of over £15,000. That i3 a good and sufficient ground for a reduction of the British preferential tariff, which would enable the British manufacturer to retain, at all events, that portion of the trade which he has been able to cultivate in Australia as the result of a great deal of enterprise. My second “reason for supporting the request is that I believe in taking into consideration in respect of any item, matters which seriously affect the welfare of the people. Senator Collings has suggested that with a monopoly of the trade within Australia, the manufacture of these wringers would provide employment for a large number of workmen. In reply to that statement let me read some of the evidence which was given before the Tariff Board. Mr. McGain, who was the applicant for the inquiry by the Tariff Board, stated -
It is impossible to compete with Englishmade wringers which, prior to the recent alteration in the exchange position, could be landed at Sydney at costs which represented an additional 26 per cent, on the f.o.b. price in England.
Mr. McGain evidently overlooked the fact that the exchange position and the additional duty of 10 per cent., on top of the rate prescribed, had been in operation for some time. He said that -
Production during the past three years has been at the rate of two machines per week. The capital employed is £2,000, of which £1,500 is represented by the value of plant and machinery. At present the plant is being used for other purposes, but it would be immediately available for the production of clothes wringers if the requested duties were granted.
I understand that a special plant has to be installed for the manufacture of wringers, but the report shows that the plant that was erected at a cost of £2,000 was also used for other purposes. Mr. McGain continued -
At present no one is employed in the production of wringers, but if the requirements of the market were met by local production, employment would be given to 25 or 30 workers.
I ask Senator Collings to compare that with his statement that many more would be employed.
Senator McLachlan raised an extraordinary point in support of his opposition to the request by saying that this is a seasonal industry. It might just as fairly be claimed that tailoring is a seasonal operation, for a suit as well as a wringer will last for a number of years. I have been provoked into speaking on this matter because it affects a large and deserving section of the community, the housewives, many of whom are too poor to employ labour, and so have to depend on their own strength and stout hearts to perform their domestic work satisfactorily. I oppose the action of the Government, which proposes to make matters more difficult for housewives, and I shall do my best, by my voice and vote, to assist them to obtain the best value for their money. If honorable senators opposite interested themselves on behalf of these deserving persons half as much as do honorable senators on this side of the House, they would not oppose the reasonable request that has been made by Senator Sampson.
– Has the honorable senator ever turned a mangle?
– That reminds me of a story. A housewife was laboriously turning a heavy box mangle when she saw her husband leaning against a verandah post, in a more or less intoxicated condition. She asked him to assist her, and he said “You don’t get me at that sort of thing”, to which she responded “ You are a worm “ ; and was informed “I may be a worm, but I am not one that turns “. I know that woman, who to-day has a wringer which gives her every satisfaction. She bought it when the duty was not so high as it now is, and many of her neighbours who are not so well off would also like to possess wringers. Do honorable senators intend to prevent their doing so by increasing the cost of these necessary articles?
– How will the cost be increased?
– Cost is governed rather by the value than by the price of an article. I am familiar with a standard brand of wringer that has been marketed in Australia for many years, and which gives absolute satisfaction. I have been told that an article similar in appearance can be manufactured in Australia. I do not dispute that, but I want to give house wives an opportunity to purchase at a reasonable cost the standard wringer which has been so highly satisfactory.
– I propose to support the request that has been moved by Senator Sampson, but I am in somewhat of a quandary. At page 80, item No. 1721 reads -
Clothes wringers for household use, ad valorem, British, 40 per cent.; general, CO per cent. but when I turn to page 35 I find an item -
Mangles, ad valorem, British, 12 J per cent.; general, 27i per cent.
– There is a great difference between the two articles.
– That may be ‘so, but the articles have common characteristics, and belong to the one family; certainly both are used for a similar purpose by the housewife, on whose behalf Senator Payne has almost wrung our hearts. In all fairness, and in an endeavour to be consistent in fixing these duties, we should make the British rate on both articles 12-J per cent.
– I intend to support the request, especially as I notice that under the Scullin validated tariff, which was generally regarded as being almost prohibitive, the rates were only British, 12-J per cent., and general, 25 per cent. The present proposal only brings the British preferential rate of duty back to that imposed by the previous Government. As members of the present Government also regarded the Scullin tariff as prohibitive, they must realize that it would be a mistake to impose a higher rate of duty.
– Senator Collings, in his usual enthusiastic manner, spoke on this subject apparently with profound knowledge. When I interjected, seeking certain information from the honorable senator, he tried to thwart my inquiry by refusing to give anything definite to the Senate. For his information I should like to tell him that the original duty of British, 12 per cent., plus 25 per cent, exchange and other charges, made the charges on this item 65 per cent., while the rate of 40 per cent, now proposed by the Government would bring the protection to the local industry up to 95 per cent. Surely no honorable senator wishes to have such inordinately high protection on an article which is used so much by those whom Senator Collings protests he represents, the working people of Australia?
– He is not the only one who represents the workers.
– But heclaims that that is so, though by supporting a duty of 40 per cent. he would increase the charges on wringers to 95 per cent.
I think that Senator Sampson made a good case. He showed that a British manufacturer, by expensive advertising and careful organizing, had established his enterprise in Australia on a basis that was advantageous to users of his product. Then, apparently, an irresponsible individual approached the customs authorities intimating that if he were given a duty of 45 per cent. - he applied for 45 per cent. and got 40 per cent. - he would establish the wringer industry in this country. Senator Payne has shown that the total amount of capital involved in that concern is only £2,000. Notwithstanding the evidence that has been given to the Tariff Board, I understand that part of the wringer manufactured by the company is stamped out in Sydney, another part is made at Footscray, and another at a rubber factory, the several sections being assembled and painted by the concern to which Senator Payne referred. The claimis made that the imported wringers are produced by a reputable British manufacturer on a basis satisfactory to all concerned. If honorable senators will turn up Hansard of September last, they will find that the present Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) was most emphatic in his condemnation of a high duty being placed on wringers. For some reason, we have apparently reverted to that bureaucracy under which Ministers take their instructions from departmental heads or officers, and, in March last, the honorable gentleman completely changed his opinions, and strongly advocated the duty that the Government proposes to impose. I believe that the rate is excessive, and that, hitherto, users of wringers have not been placed at a disadvantageous position. It is for us to help and encourage something that will let the people in the old country understand that, at any rate, we are stable in our intention to be honorable in our dealings with people who have spent their money in marketing a proprietary article in this community. I shall support the request that has been moved by Senator Sampson.
problem that is raised is whether we are going to be honest to the people concerned in this “proprietary” line, or honest to those people who have established the industry in Australia. This matter has had to run the gauntlet of the Tariff Board, and I take exception to the remark, which was probably intended to be offensive, that the Minister for Trade and Customs has taken instructions from a bureaucracy. Such a statement is due either to vast ignorance or vast ill-will. I merely say that the Minister had before him the report of the Tariff Board on the subject, which body, as I have already indicated, was taking an undoubted chance. Senator Sampson has indicated all the weaknesses of the position. I take it that there is no suggestion that the departmental officers are liars or that they have been remiss in their duty, or that they have any interest to serve other than that of establishing an industry, small and trifling though it may be. It is on their report, supplementary to the recommendation of the Tariff Board, that I have relied in support of these duties. I do not think that it will make one penny difference in the price of the commodity whether Senator Sampson’s suggestion is adopted or not. In this case, an inquiry was held by the Tariff Board, and a recommendation made as far back as October, 1931. The industry has been established on the strength of the protection afforded by these duties, and we should not depart from the recommendation of the board, particularly as the industry is carrying on in a satisfactory manner, according to reports by departmental officers. At the present time, I understand, twenty persons are employed in the factory turning out 5,000 wringers a year. It is hoped that, when production is brought up to 12,000 or 14,000, 45 persons will be employed. If we take away the protection given in this instance, manufacturers will have a sense of insecurity, and it will be impossible to induce people to embark upon new industries. Senator Millen mentioned mangles. If he refers to the Tariff Board’s report, and to the request for an examination, he will see that no request was made in respect of mangles.
– I have before to-day made remarks which indicated that I had some faith in the Tariff Board, both as at present constituted, and in the form which I hope it will some day take, because I believe that the framing of the details of the tariff will eventually have to be resigned by Parliament. I confess, however, that reports like that on [wringers tend to shake my faith somewhat in the board. I have always had some doubt as to whether the acme of meanness in regard to the tariff rests with the applicants for these duties, or with the Australian glass manufacturers; but, upon consideration, I really believe that the distinction belongs to the present applicants. There is in Great Britain a firm which, for 50 years past, has specialized in the production of wringers. Its product has become known, not only throughout the Englishspeaking world, but also all over the continent of Europe. A little while ago, some enterprising, but not over-scrupulous, gentleman in Australia got hold of this wringer, with the improvements of 50 years upon it, and made as close a copy of it as it was safe to do. Then he took the wringer to the Tariff Board and said, not that he had established an industry for its production, but that, if a prohibitive duty were imposed on wringers made overseas, he would establish an industry.
– What is wrong with that?
– In my opinion, it is fundamentally wrong. It is not the principle upon which the founders of the protective system worked. The founders of that system contemplated the case of persons who would put their capital into an industry which would enjoy certain natural advantages, and were prepared to embark on an undertaking that would be of advantage to the people of this country in the course of time, if it were helped through its initial stages. That is the principle, I submit, upon which the Tariff Board ought to act now. How does the recommendation of the Tariff Board in this case accord with article 9 of the Ottawa agreement, which states that His Majesty’s Government in Australia guarantees that protection will be afforded to those industries which are reasonably assured of sound opportunities of success? How could it be said that this industry, before it was started, was reasonably assured of sound opportunities of success?
– The proof of the pudding is in the eating.
– Yes, and the proof is that, so far, no one in Australia has been found to put his capital into the venture.
– The Australian industry is producing 5,000 wringers a year.
– Where is this factory operating? Definite allegations have been made that, up to the present, various parts of wringers manufactured in widely-separated places are being put together at premises in North Melbourne, so that the completed article will bear as close a resemblance as possible to the English original. A great deal was made by Senator Collings of the point that Senator Sampson’s information was out of date. It is true, nevertheless, that when the board made its report, nobody in Australia was engaged in the manufacture of wringers, though one person was saying that he would, do so. Then the usual thing happened ; a promise was given that a prohibitive duty would be imposed, and immediately other persons rushed in saying that they also would engage in manufacture. At present only 25 persons are being employed in the industry, and even when it is in. full operation, employment will be found for only 40 odd, but the public will have to pay an increased price for their wringers. The Minister stated that there would be no increase in price. It is true that there has been no increase yet; but it is not likely that the manufacturers would choose this moment, when the tariff has yet to be passed by Parliament, for putting up prices. The simple fact is that it would be impossible for the Australian manufacturers to sell their product at the same price as the imported wringers. I want no stronger evidence that the price will be raised than that afforded by the tariff schedule itself, wherein a duty of 45 per cent. is fixed on imported wringers. That is conclusive proof to me.
The Minister has assured us that this matter will go back once more to the board for further consideration. I hope that it will go back to the board after this branch of the legislature has registered its disapproval of the proposal, root and branch, and expressed its opinion that the attempt to establish the industry in this country is an unjustifiable extension of the principle of protection; that it is opposed to the terms of the Ottawa agreement, and is not in accordance with ordinary fair business dealings. The English factory, whose articlehas been copied by the Australian manufacturers, turns out 1,000 wringers a day. In two weeks it could supply Australia’s maximum requirements for a year. The representatives of this firm have visited Australia, and have stated that it would not be worth their while to start a factory here, because the market is not sufficiently extensive. In order to have an efficient factory it is necessary to install the very latest machinery, and to be prepared to replace that machinery whenever necessary.
Senator Collings conveyed an entirely wrong impression when he said that the letter, of which mention has been made, came from Chaleyer’s. As a matter of fact, it came from the Acme people, though admittedly it came through Chaleyer’s.We have always been told to attend, not to who says a thing, but to what is said. The honorable senator cannot dispose of the facts contained in the letter by standing in his place and pouring forth torrents of words, as he is wont to do. Senator Sampson has made out an unanswerable case. He had good material to work on, and I, for one, intend to support his proposal.
– I intend to vote against Senator Sampson’s request. I am a very staunch believer in the principle expressed in Kingsley’s lines -
Do the work that’s nearest,
Tho’ ‘tis irksome whiles;
Helping, when you meet them,
Lame dogs over stiles.
I do not suggest that this industry is a lame dog, but it is certainly in its infant stage. Senator Dunn would probably describe it as a pup. I have listened to the special pleading on behalf of the housewives by some speakers to the request, and also to the special pleading on behalf of British manufacturers and importers. There is an organization in Australia which purports to look after the interests of the housewives of the Commonwealth, and, so far, I have heard no complaint whatever from this organization. I naturally assume, therefore, that the housewives generally are quite prepared to pay the extra cost of the Australian article, if there is any extra cost.
– The Housewives Association is non-political.
– Then why did it attack the Paterson butter scheme? Why did it oppose the high prices paid at one time for Tasmanian potatoes? We all remember the attempt it made to boycott Tasmanian potatoes in the Sussex-street market. Mrs. Glencross tried to get housewives to boycott tomatoes grown under glass in South Australia. According to Senator Guthrie, there has been a protest from the Housewives Association because of the dearness of these tomatoes. Why is there no protest from the association against the price of wringers manufactured in this country? It is because the price is not high. One of the objections that Senator Elliott raised to the duties on wringers was that the Australian-made article would compete against a product which had been widely advertised in Australia.
– I did not say that it would compete against anything.I remarked that the British duty of 40 per cent. was equivalent to protection to the extent of 95 per cent.
– But the Australian article is competing against wringers made elsewhere. As to the locally-made article being similar to a wringer manufactured in another country, I am not an authority on the subject; but I have seen wringers used in my own home for 30 years or more, and I should imagine that during that period a number of patents applying to these articles may have expired. An Australian manufacturer made a great name for himself some years ago by inventing a complete harvester, but machines of this kind are manufactured to-day in Great Britain, Canada, the United States of America, and other countries. I can see nothing unfair in an Australian manufacturer placing on the market an article which is similar to a product made elsewhere. I can see no objection to wringers being produced by assembling the products of three or four different factories. I understand that in the United States of America it is a common practice for motor car manufacturers to let contracts to different firms for various motor parts, and merely to assemble the parts in their own factories. That is the way in which a large number of articles aremade in Australia. We do not expect a manufacturer of wringers to set up a rubber factory, to employ a number of wood workers, or to engage a number of men skilled in the fabrication of the iron or steel parts required in the making of wringers. We might as well say that he should set up a printing office for the production of the advertising matter used by him. Evidently the manufacturers of wringers have met with considerable success in Australia, notwithstanding the large sums spent in advertising the rival products of other countries. That suggests to me that the reason why the manufacturers in other countries, and the importers of overseas products, get so much support from the newspapers of Australia is that they spend a great deal more in advertising than do Australian manufacturers.
– The importers do not advertise.
– The sugar industry has spent a good deal of money lately in advertising.
– So has the brewing industry. In the interest’s of British fair play, we should support the present duties on wringers. Are not Australians true to British ideals?
– Let us be British in our practice.
– Australians are just as British as any other part of the Empire. The British Government is supposed to be assisting to bring about an increased production of wheat and other products in England, Scotland, and Wales, and, by doing that, the market for Australian products must necessarily be restricted; but we cannot say that therefore Britain is acting contrary to the letter or the spirit of the Ottawa agreement. She is merely studying the interests of her own people, as we shall be doing if the request that has been submitted is defeated.
– I received a shock when the Minister, in reply to my remarks, definitely stated that mangles and wringers were originally included in one item, but because the Tariff Board had received a request for a duty on wringers it had divided the item, and because so requested, promptly increased the rate of duty on wringers. If that is the way in which the board deals with tariff matters, its attitude is to be regretted, as it is disastrous.
SenatorRAE (New South Wales) [10.8]. - Probably, after a few years, wringers will be no longer , used, because there is already an invention for the quick and effective drying of clothes by means of hot air, no buttons being broken or pulled off the articles of clothing. This process will probably come into such general use that nobody will dream of subjecting clothing to the harsh treatment which it receives when a wringer is employed.
Question - That the request (Senator Sampson’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Sub-item agreed to.
Item 176, sub-item (d) -
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, sub-item (d), ad valorem, British, 20 per cent; general, 40 per cent.
The maintenance of roads to-day is quite different from what it (was a few years ago, when all that was necessary was to take out a horse and dray and spread a quantity of metal on the worn places. Modern traffic is such that in order to keep the roads in a satisfactory state of repair a complete roadmaking plant is required by each local governing or other body in charge of the roads. The maintenance of roads imposes a heavy strain on these bodies. Tasmania has between 8,000 and 9,000 miles of metalled roads which, because of the physical and climatic features of that State, are costly to maintain. In the interests of all road users, it is desirable that roadmaking machinery shall be obtainable as cheaply as possible.
– If we are to constitute ourselves a tariff-making body, and not allow these matters to be investigated first by the Tariff Board, well and good.
I shall, however, give the committee the information which I have on this subject. The only alteration, compared with the 1921-30 tariff, is an increase of 5 per cent. in the general tariff, to conform to the Ottawa agreement formula. The previous Government increased the 1921-30 rates by 10 per cent., and referred the matter to the Tariff Board for inquiry as to the necessity for the increased duties. The board has recently submitted its report, in which it recommended that the duties revert to the 1921-30 tariff rates. In connexion with the machines covered by this sub-item, the board was convinced that where there was a general demand, the local manufacturers were able successfully to compete under the old duties. The manufacture of this machinery does not require any marked degree of technical skill; it is more in the nature of general engineering work. Moreover, the protection granted by sea freight on bulky plant of this description is considerable. This sub-item covers a group of machines which, if not directly used in roadmaking, are indirectly used in that connexion. Their cost plays an important part in road-making, and honorable senators will appreciate that from the point of view of the labour involved, it is essential that the initial cost of road construction shall be kept at a minimum. In the construction and maintenance of our roads, we employ large numbers of men, and the lower the cost of the necessary plant, the greater will be the inducement to our shire councils, municipalities, and State Governments to undertake this work. The Tariff Board said that, in its opinion, the increased duties imposed by the Scullin Administration were not justified. One paragraph from its report reads -
Taking all the factors into consideration, the board is of the opinion that the rates of duty which operated up to 20th June, 1930, namely, 35 per cent. British preferential tariff, and 50 per cent. general tariff, would be sufficient to protect this industry. It is recognized that higher duties might extend the range of machines that would be manufactured in Australia, but this could only be done at the expense of higher charges for plant which it is essential should be available”’ at as low a cost as possible.
The board, in dealing with the point raised by the honorable senator, expressed the opinion that a duty of 35 per cent.
British is sufficiently high to protect local manufacturers. Since that report is as recent as the 20th October, 1932, I ask honorable senators to stand by the board’s recommendation.
– - I hope that the committee will not agree to the requested amendment. The well-known firm of Armstrong and Holland, in Sydney, has been manufacturing cement-making machines for some considerable time. In the majority of cases these machines are driven by a 5 horse-power oil engine, also manufactured very cheaply by the same firm, which in this way caters extensively for shire and municipal councils throughout New South “Wales, and, I assume, similar bodies in the other States. Senator Dooley has just informed me that many shire councils in New South Wales have idle plant of this nature on their hands and would be glad to dispose of it. The reduction of income due to the depression of the last few years, has caused all local-governing authorities to curtail expenditure on road works. Stonecrushing machines are manufactured by Mauri Brothers, of Waterloo and Mascot, Sydney, who claim to be specialists in this kind of machinery. Aerial ropeways are also included in this sub-item. Senator Millen, with his extensive knowledge of mining engineering practice, will know that for aerial ropeways, standards may be made out of T-iron, and that the rollers are made from castings. Practically any engineering shop in Australia can manufacture flying foxes. I worked for some time in the open cut at the Mount Elliott mine at Selwyn, in north-western Queensland, and I know that the working miners had no difficulty in setting up the plant for the efficient working of the flying foxes which were extensively used there. If the request moved by Senator J. B. Hayes is agreed to, the duty will also be reduced on handoperated travelling and portable cranes and coal conveyors, and ash-handling plant. These travelling” and portable cranes are operated by an Armstrong patent, and there is no reason why their manufacture should not be continued in this country. Senator Millen, with his engineering knowledge, will know that rotary belts are employed on the Newcastle coal-fields in connexion with coal conveyors, by means of which the coal is conveyed from the bunkers up to the overhead tips, thence down to the chutes, and into the bins feeding all the furnaces. Another type of coal conveyor is operated on much the same principle as a bucket-dredge, to be seen at work in any of our principal harbours. Modern ash-handling plants are also worked on the same principle as the endless feeder of a Babcock and Wilcox boiler, the clinker being taken away on endless conveyors, and either dropped into a pit or else blown or dumped into railway trucks. I have endeavoured to explain, in non-technical language, the manner in which the various machines affected by this sub-item are operated, and I have also indicated that they are all being manufactured efficiently in this country. I hope that the request will not he agreed to.
– I support the request. Stone-crushing machines are known in Western Australia as rockbreakers, and are used extensively in the mining areas. In a list sent to me by the Chamber of Mines, showing the duties that oppress the mining industry, rockbreaking machines were included. Particularly on mines worked by prospectors the ore has to be broken down before being treated at the battery, and rockbreaking machines are necessary for this purpose.
– I hope that the committee will not agree to the request. The report of the Tariff Board is conclusive, and emphatic. The evidence heard by the board and its comments thereon show that there is a wide range of manufacture in Australia. At the inquiry representatives of the Clyde Engineering Company, Mort’s Dock Engineering Company, Armstrong Holland Limited, the British Standard Machinery Company, and John Thomson Engineering Proprietary Limited - all manufacturers - gave evidence in support of .the maintenance of the increased duties imposed by the
Scullin Government. Senator J. B. Hayes has asked for consideration for the road-making authorities. Their interest in the Tariff Board’s inquiry may be inferred from the fact that not one representative appeared to give evidence against the Scullin duties. The only witness heard in opposition to the manufacturers was the- representative of a Sydney firm which acts as agent for a manufacturer in the United Kingdom; and, so far as I can gather from the summary of the evidence, he did not suggest that the duties should be reduced to the level proposed by Senator J. B. Hayes, but merely asked that the duties in the 1921-30 tariff should be retained. The Tariff Board was prepared to take evidence in Sydney and Melbourne, and, if the road-making authorities were as. seriously concerned as the mover of this request has suggested, they would have been represented at the open inquiry. It seems to me that they not only were indifferent to the request for a reversion to the 1921-30 duties, but were not gravely concerned by the increased rates imposed by the Scullin Administration. The Tariff Board has reported that the plant available in Australia is adequate for the production of local requirements, and that the keen competition ensures that prices will be reasonable. As a result of the local manufacture of road-graders, prices have been reduced by over 50 per cent, in respect of three lines cited. Both the evidence and the recommendation of the board were entirely opposed to the request now before the committee.
– Iri respect of this item, there is another of the anomalies which abound in the schedule. The duty on stone-crushing machines is 35 per cent. In an earlier group the rate on ore-dressing machinery and appliances is 27$ per cent.’ Rockcrushers are essentially part of oredressing machinery. One of the big mining companies in “Western Australia is importing a rock-crushing machine, and because it is not definitely mentioned in the schedule in connexion with oredressing plant, it was admitted under “ Mining machinery n.e.i.” at 40 per cent. There appears to be no continuity or consistency in this schedule.
-hughes. - This is a “scientific” tariff.
– There is a great variety of stone-crushers. ,
– I am aware of that. There are gyratory crushers and ordinary crushers, some with small openings and others with large openings. Similar variations are to be found in connexion with all machinery.
– The. racking system is mostly employed.
– The honorable senator apparently refers to the pitman or jaw system. Surely these items could have been more scientifically arranged.
– Perhaps the lower duties on some of those machines is due to the fact that the manufacturers did not state their case so strongly to the Tariff Board.
– That may be ; the Minister’s explanation that the harder the applicant pressed his claim before the board, the higher were the duties recommended, was certainly novel. If that sort of thing continues, no one- will know where he stands in relation to the tariff. I definitely support the request.
– I should not have risen again but for the fact that Senator DuncanHughes, by way of interjection, referred to Senator Millen as a scientist. I merely wish to point out that Senator Millen, who is a ‘mining engineer, admitted to me that I was correct when I stated that the racking or cradle system is adopted in mines. He referred to it as the Pitman system, while I gave it the term that is used in the mines. My dear friend, Senator Duncan-Hughes, could not give the engineering terms for could not give the engineering terms for the various worms and connexions in modern mining or stone-crushing machinery.
– The honorable senator has entirely misquoted what I said. I made no reference to Senator Millen as a scientist, although we have every reason to believe that he is one of the members of this chamber who knows what he is talking about on this particular matter. All that I said by way of interjection was, that we understand that this is a scientific tariff, Therefore, with Senator Millen, I am surprised that it should contain what are described as anomalies. What cannot be reconciled generally has that description applied to it.
– I draw attention to the fact that the proposed duty is the same as that which operated under the 1921-30 tariff, and that it is lower than the Scullin tariff. For the reason that the rate has been lowered, and also because I believe in the reduction of the high Scullin tariff to the 1921-30 level, I cannot support the request.
– I live in Marrickville, Sydney, a suburb that is partly residential and partly manufacturing. In that one district there are upwards of half a dozen engineering firms which are capable of turning out any machinery that pertains to the modern systems of road-making, and would be glad to get the work. If that is the case also in other manufacturing centres, we need not apprehend any difficulty in connexion with the local production at reasonable prices of whatever is required in the nature of road-making machinery of the best type and quality.
Question - That the request (Senator J. B. Hayes’) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Majority . . “ . . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sub-item agreed to.
Item 176, sub-items (f1, 2) -
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be rerequested to amend sub-item (f2) by inserting after the word “ refrigerators “the words “ for household use, not exceeding14feet cubic capacity “.
I make this request, because there is a very big difference - and it is recognized by the Tariff Board - hetween the manufacture of refrigerators that are designed for commercial use in hotels, butchering establishments, and the like, and the small standard type of refrigerator of from 4 to 6 feet cubical capacity that is designed for household use. It will be noted that even on British machines the proposed duty is 55 per cent. The committee is well aware that that is excessive, particularly in view of the fact that the Tariff Board was not able to grapple with all the facts in connexion with the Australian industry. For example, no information was submitted to the board as to either the potential or the exact demand in Australia for refrigerators for household use. Ido not desire to stress the peculiarity of our climatic conditions, nor the advantage of having a refrigerator in every household, because it is a machine that helps towards economy. The proposed duty of 55 per cent., together with exchange of 25 per cent. and primage duty of 10 per cent., provides a protection of 85 per cent. to the local manufacturer. That, of course, places a refrigerator beyond the purchasing capacity of the medium-class householder. The price of an American household refrigerator of 4-ft. capacity is about £28. That of an Australian machine of equal capacity is £70. In the northern States, such as Queensland, it is essential that every householder should have an opportunity to purchase a refrigerator at a reasonable price, but, unfortunately, the Australian article is not obtainable at a reasonable price.
– The honorable senator’s information is not up-to-date.
– It is up-to-date. The manufacture of refrigerators presents a great deal of difficulty, because it is recognized throughout the whole world that the manufacture of household refrigeration cannot be mixed with the manufacture of commercial refrigeration ; yet that is what we are attempting to do in Australia. There are two well-known firms engaged in the manufacture of refrigerators. They are theFrigidaire Corporation and the , Australian General Electric, yet in 1928, the Frigidaire Corporation lost £1,000,000 on its operations. The Australian demand is calculated roughly to be worth £500,000. This duty is too high, and does not give the householder of moderate means an opportunity to enjoy what should be a standard convenience.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Regu lations Amended - Statutory Rules 1933, No. 83.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Ordinance No. 6 of 1933- Licensed Surveyors.
State Insurance - Discussion on Ad journment - Canberra Allowance: Absence from Division -Resigna- tion or Temporary Chairman of Committees.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– This morning, I addressed a question to the Leader of the Senate respecting, the success of the State insurance scheme in Queensland, and he answered that that was a matter of State politics. I wish to point out that insurance is not solely a matter of State politics, ‘ because it is provided for under the Commonwealth Constitution. Paragraph 13 of section 51 provides that the Commonwealth may make laws with respect to banking, other than State banking; also State banking extendingbeyond the limits of the State concerned, the incorporation of banks, and the issue of paper money. We know thatthe Commonwealth Bank is transacting business in all the States. Paragraph 14 provides that the Commonwealth may make laws providing for insurance other than State insurance; also
State insurance extending beyond the limits of the State concerned. Insurance is really a matter of federal policy, because the Commonwealth may establish an insurance scheme if if thinks fit. I mention this because I do not wish it to appear in Hansard that I was wrong in asking my question. Ten years ago I prepared and read a paper in which I advocated a federal insurance scheme mainly because of the success of the State insurance scheme in Queensland. I wish now to repeat my question whether the Leader of the Senate can hold but any prospect of the Federal Government offering the people the benefit of a publicly controlled insurance scheme?
– When Senator MacDonald rose to speak I noticed that there was an effort made on the part of Government supporters to obtain a walk-out with the object of calling a quorum and preventing that honorable senator from speaking. If honorable senators on this side of the chamber are not ‘to be allowed to vent their grievances on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, I shall ensure that during the remainder of the session a majority of honorable senators will attend in the chamber. As the ten Labour senators are endeavouring to assist the “Government in passing the tariff schedule, we consider that no obstruction should be placed in our way when we attempt to speak on the motion for the adjournment.
– I wish to explain that when Senator Barnes’s motion with regard to the Canberra allowance was before the Senate I was busily engaged in the writing room. Unfortunately, I did not hear the bells ringing, and on returning to the chamber I found that the vote had been taken in my absence. ‘ Had I been present I should have voted in support of the motion.
[11.0]. - Senator MacDonald has really answered himself. He gave the Senate some particulars about the results of State insurancein Queensland, uponwhich he based a question. The federal power in this respect is confined to “insurance other than State insurance.” As the honorable senator’s question dealt with State insurance, I intimated that that was a matter for State politics.
Regarding Senator Dunn’s flight of imagination, no suggestion was made by any Minister that any honorable senator should walk out of the chamber. Honorable senators are perfectly free to leave the chamber, and sometimes they do so at times when the Government would prefer their presence here.
-I wish to intimate that I have now received a communication from Senator Payne formally tendering his resignation as a temporary chairman of committees.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 July 1933, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1933/19330705_senate_13_140/>.