13th Parliament · 1st Session
ThePresident (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE. - On the 19th October, Senator Dunn formally moved the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose of discussing suggestions for the assistance of wheat-growers. On the following day, on the motion “ That the Senate do now adjourn “, I directed attention to the fact that a report had appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of that date, headed - “ Wheat scheme - Motion for minimum price defeated “. On that occasion I. pointed out that the motion submitted by Senator Dunn was not that a minimum price should he paid for wheat, but “ That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till to-morrow at 10 a.m. “ in order to discuss the assistance to be given to wheatgrowers. As no report of my correction appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on the following day, I wrote the following letter to -the editor of that newspaper : -
Canberra, F.C.T. 23rd October,1933.
I attach hereto a copy ofa Hansard report of a statement which I made in the Senate on Friduy last. Iwas very surprised to find that no mentionwas made of these remarks in the editionof theSydney Morning Herald which reached Canberra on Saturday.I could only assume that the reportwas not sent on toyou, as I cannot believe that it would he in accordance with the reputation of the Sydney Morning Herald to refuse to publish the correction.
So far as I am aware, a correction of the misleading headlines about which I had complained, has not since appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, nor has the editor had the courtesy even to acknowledge receipt of my letter.
MEAT EXPORT TRADE.
Senator McLACHLAN. - On the 20th October last, SenatorBrown asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce the following questions, upon notice : -
For what period have experiments been conducted under the auspices of the Commonwealth Government in chilling beef for export purposes at the Brisbane abattoirs ?
What has been the cost to the Commonwealth Government to date of such experiments?
What quantitiesof chilledbeefand/or mutton have been exported overseas asa result of such experiments?
What was the cost of such shipments?
If such shipments have been made, what were the results achieved, also, whatpercen- tage of the shipments was affected by mould and other agencies of deterioration? 6.For whatlength of time did the meat keep fresh and sound after being taken from the chillingrooms?
The Minister for Commerce has now supplied the following answers: -
A little more than twelve months. 2.The Council for Scientificand Industrial Research maintainsthe investigators in laboratories thathave been provided bythe Queensland MeatIndustry Board. Thecost to the council to date has been £1,571. Extensive experiments have beencarried out in regard to the effects of bacteriologicaland fungal contaminationof meat; storage conditions; use nf gas in the chilling chambers for preservation purposes, &c. Such exploratory work was considered essential before marketing any consignments of meat.
As yet. no shipment has gone overseas as a direct result, but it is understood that at the present time the Queensland Meat Industry Board is considering tha organization of regular shipments, using methods based on thu result of the experiments. 4, 5 and6. See answer to No. 3.
I raay add that certain private interests have exported consignments.
Inquiry in North Queensland.
– When I communicated with the responsible Minister recently and asked for a copy of the report on the tobacco investigation at Mareeba, North Queensland, I was informed that if. had not then left the Cabinet, and was not available to private members. Can the Leader of the Senate explain why, in those circumstances, the report has apparently been made available to the press? When are honorable senators likely to be supplied with a copy?
– The honorable senator assumes that the press report is correct;but it is not. Consequently, the press has no advantage over honorable senators in that respect. The report is now receiving the attention of the Government, and when it has been fully considered it will be made public.
-Is the Leader of the Senate in a position to make a statement regarding the Government’s proposals to assist the wheat industry ?
– The Government intends to make a statement on that matter some time next week.
– In view of the defeat of the recent motion for the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose of calling upon the Government to pay 3s. a bushel al sidings for the 1933 wheat crop, will the Leader of the Senate say what amount per bushel at railway sidings throughout Australia the Government intends to pay for the 1933 crop ?
– It is not usual to make announcements of Government policy in reply to questions.
The following papers were presented : -
High Commissioner for Australia in London - Report for 1932.
Air Force Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1033, No. 117.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 17 of 1933 Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia; Australian Third Division Telegraphists and Postal Clerks’ Union; Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association; Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia ; and Fourth Division Postmasters, Postal Clerks and Telegraphists’ Union.
No. 18 of 1933 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 19 of1933 - Commonwealth Temporary Clerks’ Association.
No. 20of 1933 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 21 of 1933 - Professional Officers’ Association. Commonwealth Public Service.
No. 22 of 1933- Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1933, No. 113- No. 114.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1933. No. 122.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act - Statement re Pensions for the. twelve months ended 30th June, 1933.
Nauru Island Agreement Act - Ordinances of 1933-
No. 4 - Appropriation (Supplemental) - Half-year ended 31st December, 1929.
No. 5 - Nauru Royalty Trust Fund Appropriation (Supplemental ) - Halfyear ended 31st December, 1929.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1933, No.116.
River Murray Waters Act - River Murray Commission -Report for the year 1932-33, together with Statements furnished on behalf of the Governments ofNew South Wales, Victoria and South Australia in respect of Gaugings, &c.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Scat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinance No. 24 of 1933 - Lotteries and Art Unions.
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - Report of the Repatriation ‘ Commission for the year ended 30th Juno, 1933.
Customs Actand Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations amended - StatutoryRules 1933, No 119.
Export Guarantee Act - Return showing assistance granted, to 30th September, 1933.
Navigation Act-Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1933, No. 115.
Quarantine Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1933, No. 118.
The questions on this matter as asked by Senator Dunn in the Senate on Tuesday came under ray notice. I will deem it an extreme favour if you will permit me to refute the statement as alleged. Although at present tlieris is no award in Canberra for hotel employees, I am paying the same rate of wages as government hotels.In support of -this statement, I am prepared to submit my wages book for inspection at any time. I will be grateful if you could give this matter publicity, as it is likely to cause serious misunderstanding.
– Will the Leader of the Senate inform me whether the Government’s attention has been drawn to the following cablegram which was published in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday : -
Addressing an election meeting at Calashiels (Scotland), the Hon. Alexander Shaw, chairman of theP. and O. Company, referred to the plight of British shipping as a result of foreign subsidies, which, he said, wore now enormous, totalling more than £30,000,000 a year. The notice hanging over Empire trade routes to-day was, “Please pick my pockets and kick me downstairs”. Mr. Shaw instanced the trade between Australia and New Zealand established by British Empire shipping, which, he said, was now facing a severe and continuous loes through the uneconomic competition of highly subsidized foreign vessels.
It was impossible in these conditions for British companies to build new ships, for they would be doomed to incur steady losses. The same country which heavily subsidized its shipping would not allow British ships to carry goods or passengers between her ports, but attacked Britain’s purelydomestic trade, mainly because the British were so apathetic. He appealed for fairplay for all on an economic basis. The only official policy hitherto had been to do nothing, but it was not too late if they acted in time. He hoped shortly to make a concrete suggestion to save British shipping from foreign domination.
Does the Government intend to take any action against’ the unfair competition of subsidized foreign steamship companies which trade in competition with Australian steamship companies between New Zealand and Australia and between Australia and New Guinea ?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Although I have not seen the paragraph, the matter referred to has recently been the subject of communication with the Governments of the United Kingdom and New Zealand. It is still receiving the consideration of the Commonwealth Government.
-Has the Minister in charge of development seen a report published in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 8 th November, headed, “ Oil fuel - Home production - Cabinet’s policy - Shale development “ ? Will the Minister honour his frequently repeated promise to table the report of Mr. Rogers, the Commonwealth expert on oil research, who recently returned from overseas?
– I have not seen the article to which the honorable senator refers. Mr. Rogers returned from overseas only a few days ago and is now engaged in the preparation of his final report to the Shale Oil Committee in Sydney, which body, I understand, will consider it next week. The report will then be submitted to Cabinet, and unless we terminate our labours more speedily than I anticipate, I hope to be able to make the final report of Mr. Rogers available to . the Senate before it adjourns for the Christmas vacation.
Senator McLACHLAN laid on the table the report and recommendation of the Tariff Board on the following item : -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
What procedure was adopted by the Government regarding the issue of statements to the press on’ the decision to make a grant of £3,000 to Sir Charles Kingsford Smith?
Was the statement handed to Sir Keith Murdoch’s Melbourne Herald representative some hours before the decision was announced in Parliament or handed to other sections of the press?
If so, what justification was there for such action; if not, by what means did the Herald acquire a Cabinet secret before Parliament had been informed?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice - ls it not a fact that all the members of both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament are liable for the payment of both Federal and State income taxes on the same scale as other citizens of the Commonwealth?
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of a statement made by the Prime Minister, in reply to a question in the House of Representatives, that property of deceased pensioners to the value of over £34,000 had been claimed by the pensions department and over £9,000 actually collected by the department, will the Minister explain why, as stated by him in answer to a question by Senator Rae, it is “ impossible “ to ascertain the amount claimed by the department on account of life insurance policies held by deceased pensioners ?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Claims by the department are made on the executors of the estates of deceased pensioners. When the Commonwealth charge is met it is not possible to say whether the payment is made from the proceeds of life insurance policies or from other funds.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
The figures quoted arc advance and subject to revision.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had considered the Senate’s requested amendments in this bill, and had agreed to requested amendments Nos. 1, 3, 5,6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 43, 46 and 47 ; had agreed to the requested amendments Nos. 2, 9, 27, 41. 42, 44, 45, with modifications; and had not agreed to requested amendments Nos. 4, 13, 14, 15, 16, 25 and 28.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had considered the Senate’s requested amendments in this bill, and had agreed to requested amendments Nos. 1 and 2, with modifications.
Bill received from the House of Representatives and (on motion by Senator McLachlan) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives and (on motion by Senator McLachlan) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and bill (on motion by Senator McLachlan) read a first time.
Bil] received from the House of Representatives and (on motion by Senator McLachlan) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives and (on motion by Senator McLachlan) read a first time.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Bill received from the House of Repre sentatives, and (on motion by Senator McLachlan), read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
In dealing with the complicated and intricate subject of adjustment of duties on account of exchange, honorable senators will appreciate the very real difficulties which confronted the Tariff Board and the Government, in endeavouring to determine a reasonable measure of protection for Australian industries under -existing conditions, when, as a result of the cumulative effects of an adverse rate of exchange, primage duty and tariff duties, the protection enjoyed by local industries is actually far greater than Parliament intended when the duties were, originally imposed.
Although the cost of landing imported goods in Australia is increased by a figure representing the difference due to exchange, there are, on the other hand, many instances in which exchange adds to the cost of Australian production. Exchange must be paid on all imported raw materials and semi-finished goods, and also on imported capital goods such as plant and machinery. It is also responsible for increasing the cost to Australian manufacturers of any locally produced materials which are readily exportable, and have their price fixed in world markets.
It has been suggested that the Tariff Board should ignore the protective effects of exchange and primage. My answer to that is that it would be almost impossible to do so. What those who advocate this course really mean is that the board, when assessing the protection required by industry, should ignore the protective effect of exchange in the case of finished goods imported into the Commonwealth, but admit the increased costs of local manufacture due to exchange. As the cumulative increases of manufacturing cost’s cannot accurately be isolated, if the board, in assessing the protection required by industry, assesses it on the basis of the whole of the Australian manufacturer’s costs, it should logically make some allowance on account of the exchange operating on the competitive imported goods.
Reference to the board’s report, which gives evidence of careful examination of the whole position, will impress on honorable senators the complicated nature of this subject. This report, I suggest, is well worth a second reading, because I take it that all honorable senators have read it once.
The board acknowledges that ever since the initial depreciation of Australian currency, it has recognized the effect of exchange costs in increasing protection, but in the belief that the high rate of exchange was only a transient feature, it continued to recommend duties which would be adequate under normal exchange conditions. The board also shared the general belief that if the high rate persisted, a proportional increase of Australian costs of production would follow as a natural corollary. In this respect, the trend of costs has been contrary to expectations, for in spite of the depreciation of the Australian currency, running costs, apart from costs of raw material, have fallen appreciably more in the Commonwealth than in Britain.
The board states that it found that, by reason of the adverse exchange, the cost of landing imported goods has been materially increased, and at the same time Australian costs have fallen very substantially. The combined effects of reduced Australian costs and exchange on the finished goods has been to increase the protection enjoyed by local industries considerably above the level considered necessary when the customs duties were imposed. The board states that duties, which were adequate and reasonable under normal exchange, are, hi some cases, excessive under existing circumstances, and in excess of the requirements of efficient industry. High landing costs have afforded protection, in some instances, to the extent of 100 per cent. Some industries can now successfully compete under cover of the protection afforded by exchange alone. In cases where local prices are fixed by internal competition the risk arising from this high protection is slight. There is, however, always a tendency for prices to creep towards the cost of imported goods.
The board also points out that owing to steadily increasing costs it has, in the past, been reluctantly constrained to recommend higher and higher duties. Many of these duties were increased just at the time of the collapse of prices, which was closely followed by depreciation of our currency and the imposition of primage duty. These factors, accompanied as they were by the fall of wages, rents and interest charges, have left many industries grossly over-protected, and the board expresses the view that it is not in the best interests of the Commonwealth to allow such a position to continue. The need for the removal of excessive protection is all the more urgent, because the exporting industries are required to meet world competition at very low prices. Those are the more important reasons advanced by the Tariff Board in support of its recommendations.
The report is a painstaking study of a difficult and involved problem, and . as it has been in the hands of honorable sena.tors for some weeks, I’d not propose to elaborate upon it further. I shall, however, briefly state the five recommendataons made.
The first recommendation is that, in the case of goods from sterling countries, or from countries with currencies appreciated relative to sterling, a deduction should be made equal to . one-fourth of the duty payable at the rates listed under the British preferential tariff, or oner eighth ofthe value of the duty, whichever is the less and that this adjustment should be applied while the -rate of exchange on sterling is stabilized at 25 per cent., or so long as it doesnot move more than 5 per cent, in either . direction.
The second recommendation is intended to cover a possible improvement of the exchange position to -the extent exceeding 5 por cent. The board recommends ‘that, if the exchange rate falls to a figure below 20 per cen t., but not lower than 121/2 per cent., the deductions from protective duties shall be reduced to one-eighthof the duty,or one-sixteenth of the value for duty, whichever is the less.
In its third recommendation the hoard considers that no adjustment of duties is necessary in regard to . importations -from countries whose currencies are depreciated relative to sterling, but to a lesser degree than the Australian currency.
The . boards -fourth recommendation -contains proposals for . additional duty charges . in -respectof protected goods importedfromcountries whosecurrencies are depreciated relative to . Australian currency. This recommendation is covered bya separate bill.
In its fifth recommendation, the board merely re-affirms an earlier recommendation that primage duty should not be levied on goods dutiable under the protective items . of the tariff.
The Government, after a prolonged and careful examination of the position, was unable to follow the board’s recommendations in their entirety. It has, however, adopted recommendations 1 and 2 insofar as they affect protected goods dutiable under the British preferential tariff, but not in thecase of goods dutiable under the general tariff. It has made a similar limitation in regard to the third recommendation of the Tariff Board, but accepts it insofar as it does not conflict with the application of the second recommendation. ft will be asked why the Government has’ confined the adjustments to goods dutiable under the British preferential tariff, and failed to extend them to foreign goods dutiable under the general tariff. Those honorable senators who may be disposed to press for the ex-tension of . the adjustments, should bear in mind that, in this proposed legislation, we are breaking new ground, and that we are entering into fields that, so far, have not been fully surveyed. I believe that Australia is -the only country whichhas made a reduction of duties to counteract the protection afforded . to industries by an adverse exchange. This action is all the more noteworthy because it is being taken at -a time when other countries . are engaged in raising the barriers . against imports-.
Honorable senators will . more readily appreciate the significance of the’ Government’s decision not to apply the exchange adjustments to goods imported from foreign countries if I explain that the principal function of an exchange rate is to equalize costs between any two countries. Comparative costs between such countries a’re, therefore, brought into proximity by the rate of exchange. In respect of a large number of foreign countries, however, there exist no data relating to costs, wages and other charges, which would enable us to ascertain whether the . exchange ratebetween Australia and a foreign country is a natural one or a managed one. If the former, an. adjustment . mightsafelybe made;but if it is a managed rate, the costs of production, in the foreign country might be much lower than they would be if the rate were a natural one. If, then, on account of exchange on that foreign country, a substantial allowance is made from duty, and if the costs of production in that country have not been increased by reason of the fact that the exchange rate is not a natural one, it will be readily appreciated that Australian industry will be exposed to undue competition, assuming, of course, that the general tariff rate is reasonably protective. When we consider the pioneering nature of this legislation, the danger of wide and general application of the adjustments to many countries about which we have very little definite information will be appreciated.
Within recent times, representatives of several foreign countries have approached the Government, and expressed the desire of their governments to conclude trade treaties with Australia. As the concessions which we are in a position to make, are somewhat limited owing to our obligations under the Ottawa agreement, the time would appear inopportune to reduce the duties on foreign goods. If the Government should be satisfied that adjustments to duties can safely be made in relation to importations from any given country, such adjustment should be effected in aid of our exportable primary products. The Government believes that a quid pro quo should be obtained from, foreign countries to the advantage of our primary producers.
Honorable senators may not appreciate the significance of the percentages of depreciation referred to in the two subclauses of clause 5 of the bill. For the sake of clarity, the recommendations of the board have been expressed in the bill in this form rather than in the form used by the board in its report, where it speaks of the position of exchange, and recommends the deductions which it considers should be made while the exchange holds between 25 per cent, and 20 per cent. The present position of the Australian exchange with the United Kingdom, under which 125 Australian pounds are required to purchase 100 pounds sterling, is frequently referred to as a 25 per cent, depreciation, whereas it represents an actual depreciation of £25 in each 125
Australian pounds, or 20 per cent. Tho depreciation of 16§ per centum referred to in sub-section a is equivalent to an exchange represented by 120 Australian pounds to £100 sterling. The depreciation of 11 l-9th per cent, is equivalent to an exchange represented by 112J Australian pounds to £100 sterling.
Honorable senators will see, on page 2 of the explanatory memorandum that has been circulated, that the method of determining the extent of depreciation is an intricate and delicate one. The memorandum states -
It will ho readily appreciated that the exchange rate does not express the degree of depreciation, but is used for the purpose of ascertaining the degree of depreciation.
The adjustments provided for in the bill leave an adequate safety margin to cover factors which it is impossible to measure accurately, and will leave Australian manufacturers amply protected. In view of the experimental nature of the proposals, the Tariff Board and the Government have approached the matter cautiously, and have considered it desirable to refrain from making reductions which would unduly expose Australian manufacturers to intense external competition. The indications to date show that practically no industry in the Commonwealth has been rendered vulnerable by the adjustments made on account of exchange. One or two complaints that have been made apparently possess merit, and the department is at present closely investigating them. Apart from these isolated cases, however, no complaints have been made.
Honorable senators will recollect that the Tariff Board has made a careful examination, so that Australian industries may not be left vulnerable to overseas competition, and, with one or two exceptions, it was found that no further legislation of a specific character is required, as power is already given to deal with such competition. Honorable senators may rest assured that the whole range of Australian industry is not uncovered.
In its fifth recommendation the board recommends that primage duty be removed from the protective items in the tariff schedule as soon as the Government considers that revenue considerations permit, and that, at the same time as the impost is removed from any protected goods, it should be removed from any raw materials entering into the manufacture of similar protected goods in Australia. When I mention that the total amount collected in primage during the last fiscal year was £4,660,000, the importance ot primage as a source of revenue will be appreciated. It will be plain that its total abolition cannot be considered. The Government has carefully examined the field, and its proposals provide for the reduction of primage^ from 10 per cent, to 5 per cent, on goods dutiable under the protective items of the tariff and admissible under the British preferential tariff. The proposals of the Government will result in a 5 per cent, reduction of the primage on 819 items or sub-items of the tariff.
In addition, the Government will reduce or abolish primage on many classes of manufacturers’ materials and capital goods. The proposals include the total abolition of primage in a number of cases, the reduction of primage from 10 per cent, to 4 per cent, in others, and reductions from 10 per cent, to 5 per cent, in some instances. Other important remissions are the total removal of primage from tea, hessian and jute piece goods.
The primage proposals of the Government introduce a new feature, in that the reductions under the protective items and certain other cases apply only to goods dutiable under the British preferential tariff. In respect of the 819 items or sub-items of the tariff covering protected goods, primage at the rate of 10 per cent, will be payable on goods dutiable under the general tariff. On similar goods dutiable under the British preferential tariff, a lower primage rate of 5 per cent, will be payable. The advantage of a 5 per cent, preference in primage should prove exceedingly helpful in diverting a still greater proportion of our import trade to the United Kingdom, and represents a further step towards the fulfilment of the Government’s commitment under the Ottawa agreement to reduce or remove primage duty as soon as the finances of Australia permit. The proposals of the Government to give effect to the recommendations of the Tariff Board are another notable step in the direction of freer intra-Empire trade. They embody preferences to the United Kingdom both in respect to the exchange adjustments and primage duty, which should prove extremely valuable. The . following figures which indicate the extent of the new preferential margins represented in the present proposals will interest honorable senators. Altogether, 839 tariff items are affected by the exchange and primage proposals. Of these, 101 will carry an increased British preference of from 5 per cent, to 10 per cent.; 213 items will carry an increased preference of over 10 per cent, and up to 15 per cent. ; S3 will carry increased preference of over 15 per cent, and up to 17+ per cent., and. one item will be subject to an additional preference of 20 per cent. In all 441 items are subject to duties at specific rates, and these will enjoy an additional preference. Except when the policy of preference to Britain was adopted in the early days of federation, possibly no single act on the part of the Commonwealth authorities has conceded greater benefits to the United Kingdom. The additional preferences should turn the scales in Britain’s, favour on many marginal lines, and enable if to supply an ever-increasing proportion of Australian requirements.
Debate (on motion by Senator Barnes) adjourned.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
In dealing with the subject of exchange, I indicated that the Tariff Board’s recommendations regarding primage and exchange covered industries preservation. Recommendation IV. of the Tariff Board’s report on primage and exchange provides for the imposition of additional duty on protected goods imported from countries with currencies more greatly depreciated than Australian currency. The board recommends a certain formula for ascertaining the extra duty which should lie imposed, and a memorandum has been circulated among honorable senators showing how the formula will be applied. It operates in the reverse manner to the exchange adjustments proposals contained in the bill “which has already been placedbefore honorable senators, and is intended to counteract to some extent the advantages derived by another country through that country’s currency being depreciated to agreater extent than Australian currency. The Government has decided not to apply thisformula over the complete range of the protective tariff, as the application of this exchange duty would in many cases be quite unnecessary for the protection of local industry, and might be needlessly provocative to certain foreign countries. When a prima facie case is established for the imposition of the duty, the procedure will be to refer it to the Tariff Board and, generally speaking, to act on the recommendation of the board. This is exactly the same procedure as is now observed under the Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Act. I do not believe that any reasonable honorable senator will dissent from this proposal. Even freetrade interests admit the necessity for the imposition of some such special duty to protect essential industries against unfair competition. The method of applying the duty will give rise to a minimum of resentment on the part of exporting countries. Most other nations will, I think, admit no government can stand idly by and see the existence of essential and key industries in its country jeopardized. The formula is to take the place of section 8 of the Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Act, which provides certain special duties on gazetted goods from countries with depreciated currencies. The amendment should make the Industries Preservation Act more effective than it has been in the past, and provide a ready means for the imposition of special duties when Australian industries are likely to be seriously undermined. Honorable senators may regard the explanatory memorandum whichhas been circulated, based on the formula provided by the Tariff Board, as being somewhat complex, but I suggest that they note the example given regarding the depreciated yen. It will enable them to appreciate the significance of the penultimate clause of the bill. We have transated the formula of the economists into the legal- language necessary to giveit effect. I commend -the bill to honorable senators because of its simplicity, and because of the satisfactory way in which it gives effect to the Tariff Board’s recommendations.
Debate (on motion by Senator Barnes) adjourned.
In committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message) :
– In order that honorable senators may understand the manner in which the requests made by this chamber were dealt with in the other House, I have had the requests dissected into two groups, namely : -
The Government requests numbered 321/2, of which 29 were made and 31/2 modified. There were 141/2 non-Government requests, of which 4 were made, 7 not made, and 31/2 modified. Of the total requests, 70 per cent, were made, 15 per cent, were not made, and 15 per cent, were modified. It will be seen that the House of Representatives has given careful consideration to the requests submitted by this chamber, and as all of them, with the exception of seven, were either agreed to entirely or modified, it would appear that the other House is prepared to work harmoniously with this chamber in endeavouring to complete the tariff. Generally, it can be said that the House of Representatives dealt with the requests covering protective duties in accordance with the recommendations of the Tariff Board and the Ottawa agreement. I ask honorable senators to deal with these items as expeditiously as possible, in order that the trading public may have a complete tariff to work on, instead of the numerous tariff schedules which are so confusing to importers.
Spirits, and spirituous liquors, n.e.i. : -
Whisky, including liqueur whisky -
When not exceeding the strength of proof, per gallon - British, 45s.; general, 48s.
When exceeding . the strength of proof, per proof gallon - British, 45s.; general, 48s.
Senate’s Request- - Amend sub-item to make it-
Whisky, including liqueur whisky -
When not exceeding the strength of proof, per gallon - British, 45s. ; general, 48s.
Bouse of Representatives’ Message. - Made with the following modifications: -
As on and after the 5th October, 1933 - Paragraph (1) - The duty, British preferential tariff, made - 14s.
Paragraph (2) (a) - The duties made - 40s. British preferential tariff, 43s. general tariff.
Paragraph (2) (b) - The duties made - 40s. British preferential tariff, 43s. general tariff.
– I move -
That the modifications be agreed to.
This request was made with the object of providing in the customs tariff for the admission of Scotch barley malt whisky at such a rate as would enable it to be blended with Australian whisky in approved, proportions, and under official control. The principle was agreed to in the House of Representatives, but modifications were made in the duties in order to bring them into line with the recent reductions of duties on spirits provided for in the budget.
.- I hope that the committee will not accept the modification. I understand that the proposal of the House of Representatives is to reduce the duties on imported whisky in accordance with a general desire to grant concessions to all sections of the community. Duties on alco holic liquors have always appeared to me to be defensible on the ground that they . are revenue duties. I have heard it stated in many quarters that the reduction of the duties will lead to an increased consumption of whisky.
– The duty should be so high that people could not buy whisky at all.
– I cannot vote for any duty which would increase the consumption of alcoholic liquors. In saying that, I speak not as a temperance advocate, but as a citizen who has the best interests of his country at heart. The greater the consumption of alcohol, the worse it is for the community. Rather than encourage the consumption of alcoholic liquors this Parliament should do its utmost to restrict their use. I could produce evidence that an increased con sumption of alcoholic liquors would add to governmental expenditure in the maintenance of certain institutions. I am strongly opposed to any proposal to fix the duties on alcoholic liquors at rates which would encourage their use.
Question - That the modifications be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Fruits, dried, viz.: -
Senate’s request -
Make the duty per1b., British,1d.; general,1d.
House of Representatives’ message - Not made.
.- I move-
That the request be not pressed.
Honorable senators will recollect that the request moved by Senator Sampson for a reduction of the duty on dates from 3d. to1d. per1b. was based on the following reasons: - (a) That the Tariff Board had recommended in 1929 that the duty of1d. per lb. on dates be not increased; (b) that experience had shown that higher duties on dates had not resulted in an increased use of Australian dried fruits, and (c) that higher rates of duty meant increased prices to consumers. After this chamber had requested a reduction of the duty, representations were made by Australian dried fruits organizations against the reduction on the ground that dates compete with currants, lexias, sultanas and prunes, particularly for cooking purposes. In the House of Representatives, the Government contested that claim, and it was pointed out that revenue amounting to £73,000 per annum was involved in a reduction of ‘the duty on dates from 3d. to1d. per1b. It indicated, however, that it was prepared to agree to the Senate’s request, and to forego that revenue. Despite the attitude of the Government, the House of Representatives decided not to agree to the request. In the circumstances, I suggest that the request bo not pressed.
– Do I understand that Ministers in the Senate will vote differently to-day on this issue from the way in which their colleagues in the House of Representatives voted?
– We have no choice; there is no chance of having the request agreed to.
– If all Ministers had been present, and had voted with the Government when this item, was before the House of Representatives, the Senate’s request would have been agreed to. It was lost by one vote and five Ministers were missing from the division.
I do not approve of the Senate giving way on this point. Dates constitute a valuablearticle of diet, particularly in those parts of Australia* where it is difficult or impossible to obtain fresh fruit. I trust that the Senate will insist upon the reduction of duty which it has requested.
– I also hope that the Senate will be consistent in regard . to this item, which has had a somewhat chequered career. The reduction of duty was first moved by a private member, and was, I think, carried against the Government.Then the Government, in the House of Representatives, espoused the Senate’s request, but the proposal was defeated because a number of Government supporters failed to appear when the division was taken. Now, in order to complete the circle, the Government proposes to oppose the reduction as it did in the first place. I do not propose to box the compass in that way. I support the reduction, and I hope that the majority of senators will do so too. It is riot my intention to discuss in detail again all these items. They were fully discussed when the tariff schedule was previously before the Senate, and my views are on record. I am prepared to vote on these matters again, butI do not propose to delay the ratification of this tariff with its all too meagre reductions of duty.
– If I remember rightly, this request for a reduced duty on dates was carried on the voices in the Senate. It was pointed out at the time, that the duty of 3d. per lb. on dates was a revenue impost. The duty was not imposed to prevent imports, or to assist a local industry, because, as a matter of fact, only a very small quantity of dates is grown in Australia. I do not believe that we should place revenue duties on important articles of food. The importation of dates does not hurt any local industry.
– The ‘representatives of the Australian dried fruits industry maintain that it does.
– I cannot understand their point of view. Dates should be admitted free until such time as we can produce enough to supply our own needs.
.- Dates are used extensively, if not exclusively, by people with small means, and for that reason, they should not be taxed. When the duty on dates was Id. per lb. it was regarded as a purely revenue impost. Then following representations by the producers of dried fruits a protective duty of 3d. per lb. was imposed on dates. The Tariff Board, after making u full inquiry, reported that there was no evidence that the importation of dates injuriously affected the ‘Australian dried fruits industry. Therefore, I support the Senate’s request that the duty be reduced. If we do not succeed in having the request agreed to, a heavy impost will remain upon a section of the community which most needs relief. If. we need revenue, let us place taxes on gOods that are used by people in more fortunate circumstances. There is no justice in increase ing by 200 per cent, the duty on a food largely used by the poorer sections of the people.
Senator DUNN (‘New South Wales) 1 4.32]. - Senator Payne suggested that those who supported a duty designed to protect the producers of dried fruits, were, by their action, seeking to penalize the poorer sections of the community. I represent a great many poor people; I am the son of a poor man, and was reared among the poor, but I know that the people with whom I was brought up, and whom I now represent, would be prepared to do without dates, grown and packed under the slave conditions which prevail in Egypt, if tha’t sacrifice were necessary in order to assist a worthy Australian industry. Successive governments of New South Wales have spent millions of pounds in developing the dried fruits industry, particularly at Leeton and Griffith. In those irrigation areas, millions of pounds hai.’ been spent, and’ thousands of families, including those of returned soldiers, are engaged in producing dried fruits for home consumption, and for export. The same thing obtains in Mildura, where a great deal of* capital has been sunk in this enterprise. On the railway stations throughout the Commonwealth are huge advertisements ask ing the public to eat more fruit, particularly more dried fruits. The Chief Railway Commissioner of Victoria has made a feature of such advertisements, as may be seen by those who visit the Flindersstreet or Spencer-street railway stations in Melbourne. I believe that dates could be grown successfully in the north of Queensland in sufficient quantities to meet all Australia’s requirements.
– They can be grown in the north-west of New South Wales.
– I have no doubt that they can. In Egypt dates are grown and packed under conditions approaching slavery, as I have seen myself in Alexandria and elsewhere in Egypt. Therefore, I do not favour admitting at lower rates of duty, foreign dates which will compete with the products of our own dried fruits industry.
– Senator Hoare was right up to a point when he said that nothing should be done to make food dearer to the poorer sections of the community, and he was also right when he said that dates were not grown to any extent in Australia. Attempts have been made to cultivate dates in certain parts of Queensland, and I have seen date palms growing at Barcaldine, in the central west, and in other, parts, though they have not been grown in large numbers. Therefore, d rites are not commercially produced in Australia. During the last two or three years, I have done some intensive reading concerning food values, and I am convinced that dates have not the value which is attributed to them by some honorable senators.
– Are dates competitive with prunes ?
– I think they are, to a certain extent. I welcome Senator Elliott, who to-day appears in the role of a whole-hearted protectionist on this item, and I shall have the unusual experience of voting with him. Although we do not grow a great quantity of dates in this country, we are producing other substitute fruits which have a greater food value, and should be adequately protected. The imposition of 3d. per lb. duty on dates is, therefore, an oblique or indirect protection of our own fruits
– If I thought that a reduction of the duty on dates from 3d. to1d. per lb. ‘would interfere with the Australian dried fruits industry, I would vote with the Government on this item.
– It will.
– Senator Collings says that it will. I hold the contrary opinion. In Western Australia there are more producers of dried fruits, in proportion to population, than in Queensland, and I do not think that I am injuring their industry when I say definitely that a reduction of the duty on dates will not affect them. Something has been said about the slogans displayed on railway station buildings throughout the States urging the people to “ eat more f rui t “. There is nothing in those slogans about dried fruits. The appeal is simply to people to “ eat more fruit.” While I appreciate all that has been done by the railway authorities of Victoria, in the interests of the fruitgrowers, I complain that people who buy packets of . dried fruits . donot get value for their money. For ..example, the 3d. packet of sultanas . contains, roughly, one-eighth of a lb. I admit that very good prunes are produced in Australia, but the price is so high that not many people can afford to buy them. Moreover, not everybody can eat prunes. Why, then, should they be denied the opportunity to eat dates? The Australian dried fruits industry is so well established that a lowering of the duty on dates will not injure it in any way. When this item was under discussion in the House of Representatives, the Ministry, while professing to accept the Senate’s request to reduce the duties, by some inadvertence allowed it to be rejected.
.- When this item was before the Senate a few weeks ago, there was a long debate on it, and the requested amendment to reduce the duty on dates was carried on the voices. Apparently the opposition, on that occasion, was not so pronounced asit hassince become. I agree with SenatorCarroll that a reduction of the duty wall notinjure the Australian dried fruits industry. If producers of dried fruits had to depend upon the Australian market, they would bein a difficult position. Since the bulk of ‘their products is sold in outside markets, we can imagine how they would feel if, in countries which now take heavy supplies of Australian dried fruits, there was a demand for the imposition of a duty of 3d. a lb. on them. If, in our tariff legislation, we are unreasonable inour treatment of the products of other nations, we must expect retaliation, with the result that, eventually, the bulk of our primary products may be left on our hands and be unsaleable. In such an event, the poorer people of this country who now purchase dates as an article of food, will be forced to buy Australian dried fruits at possibly an exorbitant figure. I hope that the Senate will persist in its request for a reduction of the duty.
.- I hope that the Senate will not press its request. I cannot understand Senator Grant’s argument. He declared that the Australian dried fruits industry depended largely on- the overseas market for the disposal of its products, and then objected to a proposal which would have the effect of increasing the home market. There is no need to elaborate the Argument on this item. Honorable senators of the Labour party maintainan Australian outlook in these matters. There are some things which we canvery well afford to do without, if, by doing without them, we can encourage Australian industries that produce substitute products. During a debate in the House of Representatives a few days ago, I heard the statement made that it was becoming a crime to be an Australian and to stand up for Australian industries, and for the rights and privileges of Australian workmen. My vote always will be , cast in favour of any proposals to encourage Australian industries, as it is my sincere desire to see this nation become selfcontained. Senator Grant spoke of the risk of retaliation. Let me remind him that retaliation is not the monopoly of any nation; -so if there is to be retaliation by other countries because of what we may do in this Parliament, we might just as well face the issue now by insistingon adequate duties on food products imported into thiscountry.’
– I was -amazed to hear Senator
Grantsay that if we adopt the higher duty on dates, the people living in countries where they are produced will retaliate. His statement is ridiculous, because not an ounce of Australian dried fruits is consumed by those people.
– They may be taking other Australian products.
– I question that very much. From my experience of countries where dates are grown, I know that the people are . so poor that they never have enough money to buy anything elese but dates. I deny the assertion that dates cannot be grown in Australia. If the industry had adequate protection, people would be encouraged to cultivate dates in suitable areas in northern New South Wales and Queensland, as well as in other States where the climatic conditions are favorable.
– But have we the insects needed for pollenization purposes ?
– I believe we have. There is no reason why we should not be able to grow excellent dates in this country.
– I do not agree that, if the higher duty on dates be retained, people livingin countries where they are grown will adopt retaliatory measures in their tariff legislation. The quantity of dates grown in Australia is insignificant. Although a duty of 3d. a lb., presumably for the encouragement of the local industry, has been in operation for several years, people in areas where dates might be grown have not been sufficiently interested to make the attempt. Why not reduce the present duty, since scarcely any dates are grown in Australia? If it could be shown that the reduction of the duty would interfere with the dried fruits industry, I should be prepared to reconsider my vote, but no proof is available -that that industry would suffer by such a reduction.
– We are backed up by a report of the Tariff Board.
– That body states that the dried fruits industry is not affected by this duty.
– . Should not the public be protected against dates that are packed under unhealthy conditions?
– I have seen imported dates both in bulk and weighed out in pounds, and they are a credit to those who pack them; the fruit always looks clean and wholesome. I intend to vote to give the children of . the workers dates at a lower price than they will have to pay if this duty is retained.
– This duty seems to have raised a storm in a teacup. Probably very few dates can be grown in Australia, apart from North Queensland. While the date palm flourishes under a tropical sun, it needs much water. That fact is poetically expressed in an Arab proverb. Honorable senators now have an opportunity to engage in a fight with the Government, and to have a tilt at the other branch of the legislature. This committee agreed on the voices to request a reduction of the duty on dates from 3d. to1d. per lb. We should not automatically assent to every proposal that comes to us from the other chamber, but should adhere to our own opinions. This aspect of the matter is of greater importance than the mere amount of duty to be charged.
– Let us do the right thing by a great Australian industry.
– Great Australian fiddlesticks. This duty was imposed some time ago, and if a date industry then existed in Australia, it should have been stimulated ere now. The date palm will grow in almost any part of Australia, but it will not bear profitable crops in many localities.
Question - That the request be not pressed - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Majority . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Woven and embroidered materials in the piece or otherwise: - Badges, hat and cap fronts (badged), medal ribbons, looping for boots and shoes; labels and hangers for all purposes including plain hanger material; tubular tie material in the piece; galoons bands or bandings tapes and the like having printed woven or embroidered lettering badge trade name or mark or design thereon; slipper, shoe, and blazer bindings, ad valorem, British, 45 per cent.; general, 70 per cent,
Senate’s request -
Amend item to make it - 107. Woven and embroidered materials in the piece or otherwise : - Badges, hat and cap fronts (badged), medal ribbons, looping for boots and shoes; labels and hangers for all purposes including plain hanger material; tubular tie material in the piece; galoons bands or bandings tapes and the like having printed woven or embroidered lettering badge trade name or mark or design thereon; ribbons and galoons having not more than 48 ribs to the lineal inch and being not more than three and a half inches in width; slipper, shoe, and blazer bindings, ad valorem, British, 35 per cent.; general,60 per cent.
House ofRepresentatives’ message -
Made the following modifications: -
After “107” “(a)” inserted.
After the word “ribbons” (twice occurring) the words “(not being water -waved ) “ inserted.
The following new sub-item added -
– I move -
That the modifications be agreed to.
The request from this committee was for the reduction of the rates of duty under this item from 45 per cent. British, and 70 per cent, general, to 35 per cent. British, and 60 per cent, general. The lower rates were recommended by the Tariff Board. The request has been agreed to subject to the exclusion of water-waved ribbons from item 107, and to the provision of a new sub-item to permit of the admission, subject to departmental by-law, of regalia ribbons for use in the manufacture of lodge regalia at rates of free, British, and 25 per cent, general. The Tariff Board did not make special reference in its report to water-waved ribbons, but the department subsequently ascertained that the local manufacturers were no longer producing such ribbons, and there were, therefore, no grounds for the retention of the high rate, particularly as requests had been made for relief from duty on water-waved medal ribbons such as General Service, Victory, 1914-15 and Italian General Service Ribbons. The exclusion of water-waved ribbons from item 107 will make them classifiable under item 106 b at rates of free, British, and 25 per cent, general, and will ensure the maintenance of the preference to the United Kingdom agreed upon at Ottawa.
The Tariff Board recommended that regalia ribbons for the manufacture of lodge regalia should be admitted, under item 404, free, British, and 15 per cent, general, or, under item 434, 5 per cent. British, and 20 per cent, general, subject to departmental by-law, The adoption of the board’s recommendation would have meant a reduction of the margin of preference to the United Kingdom from 25 per cent, to 15 per cent., and would thus have conflicted with the Ottawa agreement. The proposal to include lodge regalia ribbons under a separate sub-item at rates of free, British, and 25 per cent, general, will maintain the margin of preference existing at the time the agreement was signed, while the bylaw prescription will enable importation at the lower rates to be strictly limited to ribbon known to the trade as lodge regalia ribbons, and actually used, in the manufacture of lodge regalia. The modifications which I have just explained are quite in keeping with the spirit of the Tariff Board’s recommendation, and the reductions of duty involved are not objected to by the local manufacturers.
Motion agreed to.
Item 145 -
Iron and steel plate and sheet, viz.: -
Corrugated galvanized, galvanized not corrugated, and corrugated not galvanized, per ton, British, 90s.; general, 130s.
Somite’s request -
Make the duty, per ton, British, 20s.
House of Representatives’ message -
– I move -
That the request be not pressed.
Senator Johnston moved the request with the object of affording the balance of the protection recommended by the Tariff Board by the payment of a bounty of £3 10s. per ton. on Australian-made galvanized iron. This would reduce the price of galvanized iron to the user, and, in effect, shift the burden of protecting this industry from the users to the general taxpayer. When the Bruce-Page Government held office, a bounty-cum-duty system of protection was provided for this industry. The subjoined table gives an indication of the amount of duty collected, and the bounty paid over a period of years -
During the period for which the bounty was paid, the local production of galvanized iron was limited to approximately 25,000 tons perannum, and the average annual payments during the last few years of the bounty, were approximately £80,000. The average importations were approximately 90,000 tons per annum. The customs duty received more than balanced the bounty payments, and, consequently, the Treasury was not under any real financial obligation in the matter. The present position is entirely different. The local annual demand is reduced from 112,000 tons to 72,000 tons, while the Newcastle works have been extended, and can now produce the whole of Australia’s requirements of this commodity. A feature of the Tariff Board’s report was a recommendation that the local manufacturers be given the whole of the Australian trade in order that the prices which the board, sug gested should be charged for Australian iron could be maintained. Smaller imports can be expected if the proposed bounty-cum-duty protection is maintained at the level, recommended by the Tariff Board. The Treasury would therefore be called upon to meet the whole of the bounty which, on the present annual demand of 72,000 tons, at the rate of £3 10s. per ton, would amount to £252,000 per annum. The bounty system of protection was designed to assist local industry until it could supply the major portion of the domestic requirements. When an industry has reached the output necessary to supply the Australian demand, there is no sound reason for continuing the bounty, and the necessary protection is then afforded by means of customs duties. To revert to the bounty system in the case of galvanized iron would be to break a well-established principle; the logical conclusion of such action would be the substitution of bounty assistance, for all the protective items in the tariff schedule, which, of course, is impracticable. Moreover, the use of galvanized iron is not restricted to primary producers, for a substantial portion finds its market outside of rural areas. Even the quantity which is used in rural areas is not wholly used in actual primary production. For the following reasons, the Government does not desire the request to be pressed: -
The Tariff Board has recommended the rates incorporated in the schedule. The ad valorem equivalent of the duty is 32 per cent., although on the value of the actual importations during 1929-30 - the last year in which considerable importations occurred - the present duty would average only 23 per cent. Although New Zealand admits galvanized iron free of duty, it’s cost is higher than that of Australian, galvanized iron to Australian consumers. Our primary producers engaged in the exporting industries cannot have it both ways. They cannot have the exchange operating as a bonus on their exports and complain that Australia n galvanized iron is being sold to them at a figure which is lower than the duty-free cost of British iron in New Zealand. Protected primary industries cannot complain, because in practically every case the protection accorded such industries is prohibitive. Compared with the duties which protect primary industries, the rate on galvanized iron is a modest one.
– The Senate decided on a substantial reduction of the duty on galvanized iron only after the most careful consideration’.
– The vote on that occasion will be reversed to-day.
– In that event, the people in the outlying districts of Australia will be greatly disappointed. Unless- the Senate shows its mettle and adheres to its previous decisions, I am afraid that the honorable senator’s desire to abolish this chamber will be attained more quickly than otherwise. The galvanized iron industry is particularly favoured in that there is legislative authority for granting a bounty equal to any reduction of the tariff made on the recommendation of the Tariff Board. That is pointed out by the Tariff Board in its report of the 18th August, 1932 -
The Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act 1922-1929 authorizes payment of bounty at the rate of £4 10s. per ton on galvanized sheets manufactured in Australia and delivered from the factory on and after the 1st January, 1930. Section 3 of the act cited provides that on the introduction of a customs tariff bringing into operation increased duties on galvanized iron the rate of bounty shall be decreased by an amount which, in the opinion of the Minister, after inquiry and report by the Tariff Board, corresponds to the amount by which the duties are increased. At the present time no bounty is payable, because of the operation of tariff resolution of the 3rd May, 1932, increasing the duties by £4 10s. per ton.
Already this industry has received bounties totalling about £700,000.
– The total amount paid by way of bounty is £469,000.
– It would appear that the Government expects the Senate to adhere to its former decision in regard to galvanized iron, because there is now before the House of Representatives a bill to amend the Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act in order to authorize the issue of a proclamation, even when Parliament is not sitting, to provide for the payment of a bounty equivalent to any reduction of duties recommended by the Tariff Board.
– It is problematical whether that legislation will ever be required.
– I agree with the honorable senator. If this industry is to be encouraged at all, it should be by means of a bounty contributed by the whole community.We should then know what the establishment of the industry in Australia costs the taxpayers. At present the whole burden of maintaining this industry is borne by the users of galvanized iron, who are compelled to pay £4 10s. a ton more for it than they should. When the Senate decided on lower duties on galvanized iron, congratulatory telegrams were sent to many honorable senators by the Western Australian Mining Association and other organizations in mining districts.
– Miners’ associations do not consist of miners.
– The honorable senator appears to forget that most of the buildings in mining areas, including the cottages of the miners, are constructed almost entirely of galvanized iron which is also a main item in the construction of all buildings in agricultural and pastoral districts and the dwellings of the city workers. The pioneers in the outback country could scarcely do without this material. Galvanized iron is the last item which should be taxed. I hope that the committee will show some backbone and adhere to its former decision.
– Senator Johnston has admitted that galvanized iron is a commodity used generally by the people of Australia, and not only by the primary producers, but he appears to have overlooked the fact that, notwithstanding the duty, galvanized iron costs £25s. 2d. a ton less in Australia than in New Zealand, where there is no duty. In the light of those figures, it cannot be denied that the establishment of the local works at Newcastle has resulted in lower prices for this commodity. Apart from the fact that 3,000 men are employed in this and associated industries, and that wages amounting to £800,000 a year are paid, galvanized iron is cheaper here than in New Zealand. In the Argentine, too, the price of galvanized iron is higher than in Australia. Senator Johnston seeks to convey the impression that he alone voices the wishes of the primary producers, but I remind him that Queensland senators also represent a great many primary producers.” In fact, the number of farmers has increased much more rapidly in Queensland than in any other State. I took the trouble on one occasion, when I was standing for election to the Senate, to take out the figures, and
I found that, over a certain period, the number of farmers had increased by 10,000, whereas the number of factory workers had remained practically stationary, and the number of miners had decreased, due to the general decline of mining. Senator Johnston should not forget that the workers employed in secondary industries provide a market for the products of the primary industries, approximately 85 per cent, of our primary produce being consumed in Australia. The factory at Newcastle, for the production of galvanized iron, was established by an English company, which invested nearly £1,000,000 in the enterprise. No dividend has yet been paid, so it cannot be said that the Australian public has been exploited. I trust that I have been successful in convincing Senator J ohnston that the industry is one worthy of protection, and that his duty is to vote for the retention of the present duty.
– I sincerely hope the Senate will stand firm on this item, and will press for the reduction of the duty. A great deal of nonsense has been talked on this subject, not only in this chamber but also in the House of Representatives. I was seated in the gallery of that House when the Senate’s request for a reduction of the duty on galvanized iron came up for discussion. I heard the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White), and a number of other members, speak of the serious injury which would be done to the Australian industry if the duty were reduced. They pictured the desolation that would occur at Newcastle, and spoke of the exploitation of the Australian public that would follow the lowering of the present protection. They also stressed the great value of the iron and steel industry to national defence. I do not say that the iron and steel industry is not of value as a factor in defence, but its value is reduced by the fact that the factories are situated on the coast. Half an hour’s shelling would probably destroy them all. Senator Collings charged Senator Johnston while he was speaking with being antiAustralian. If he . makes that charge against Senator Johnston, who asks for some relief for a section of the community which is loaded with a great many burdens not borne hy more fortunate sections, I wonder what he would say of Mr. Essington Lewis, the managing director of the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited enterprise at Newcastle. As recently as the 26th October of this year, members of the Australian Provincial Press Association, who were holding a conference in Sydney, went up to Newcastle as the guests of the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited, which entertained them at luncheon. They were much impressed, with what they saw, and they were addressed by Mr. Essington Lewis. T do not know that gentleman, but I presume that he knows what he is talking about, or he would not be in his present position. I also presume that his directors and shareholders have the utmost confidence in him. He is reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, on the 27th October, 1933, as having said that the company was already selling most of its products to consumers at prices below those at which they could be imported from Great Britain on a duty-free basis. J t may be argued that the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited is not the manufacturer of galvanized iron. That is a moot point, but, at any rate, it supplies the raw material from which galvanized iron is manufactured.
– The Broken Hill Proprietary Limited is a substantial shareholder in Lysaght Limited.
– It is difficult to know where the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited ends and Lysaght Limited begins. To my mind, they are, to all intents and purposes, one company. Of course, spelter is also used in the manufacture of galvanized Iron, but that is produced in Australia as cheaply as anywhere else in the world. Spelter does not represent an added cost which has to be borne by the local manufacturers of galvanized iron, and should not be responsible for any substantial increase of the price. Therefore, the statement of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) that a duty of £4 10s. a ton is necessary to protect the loc.il industry goes by the board.
– The managing director of Broken Hill Proprietary
Limited is not concerned with the production of galvanized iron.
– Not directly, perhaps, but I challenge the Minister to prove that Broken Hill Proprietary Limited has no interest in the subsidiary company which manufactures galvanized iron in Australia. It is evident that, if Broken Hill Proprietary Limited can manufacture the raw material as cheaply as Mr. Essington Lewis claims, then the manufacturers of galvanized iron, who use that raw material, should not need, in order to carry on, as much protection as they claim. The protection which would be afforded if the Senate’s request were agreed to would be ample. If, in the future, it can be shown that conditions have altered, and a higher duty is needed, I am sure that Parliament, will give such protection as may be required. As an Australian - and I claim to be as good, an Australian as any one else - I realize the value of having this industry in the Commonwealth. But that is no reason why an unnecessarily high rate of duty should be retained, thus giving to the manufacturers an opportunity to exploit the people of Australia if they so desire.
– Senator Johnston has pointed out that we are passing legislation which will enable the Government to restore the bounty on galvanized iron and other products, even when Parliament may not be in session. It is true thatwe are providing machinery to facilitate the payment of bounties, but the honorable senator is entirely wrong in his conclusions. Legislation dealing with bounties is already on the statute-book. If the honorable senator’s suggestion is adopted with regard to this item, the Government will be required to provide out of revenue this year £252,000 for the payment of a bounty in lieu of the duty.
– Why not abolish the bounty ?
– -Wh at then would happen ‘to the industry ? On the evidence before us, we must admit that it could not carry on. When this item was last under discussion, Senator Johnston admitted that, in the event of the duty being retained, the burden would fall, not on the users of this commodity, but on the general taxpayers. Because of the clamant demand now being made from all quarters for assistance, the Government cannot accept the honorable senator’s suggestion, which, in effect, means the surrender of £252,000 of revenue. If Senator Carroll’s premises were right, there would be some substance in his argument. I understand that, on the occasion of a recent visit to the Newcastle steel works by members of the Provincial Press Association of New South Wales, some observations were made by Mr. Essington Lewis, the general manager, relating to the operations of the company. But I suppose that Senator Carroll is as well aware as I am that the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited is not financially interested in Lysaght Limited.
– It does not own a solitary share in that company.
– It is well known in commercial circles that the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited has been, for some time, endeavouring to secure an interest in the company in question, but, up to the present time, has not succeeded.
– Is it such a good proposition that the present proprietors will not allow any one else to buy into it ?
– I cannot say. The honorable senator who, no doubt, is in touch with its head-quarters in. Melbourne, probably knows more about it than I do. But I do know that the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited has been endeavouring to secure an interest in what it properly regards as an allied industry to which it sells a considerable quantity of raw material. I say definitely that the present state of Commonwealth finances will not permit of an added burden being thrown on the budget. Senator MacDonald has just told us that in New Zealand, where there is no duty on galvanized iron, the price is higher than in Australia.
– The same position obtains in the Argentine.
– Honorable senators must decide whether they willask the Government to take £252,000 out of revenue for the payment of a bounty, to ensure the continuance of this industry, or leave the burden on the users of the commodity. If the course indicated to the Government is followed, the burden will be borne by the general taxpayers. I repeat that, at such a time as this, when the people who are using this material are getting it at a lower price than the rates prevailing in New Zealand, the Senate would not be justified in pressing its request for the lower rate of duty in the British tariff.
– The industry does not now need protection.
Sen ator McLACHLAN. - Apparently . the honorable senator has changed his ground. When last we discussed this item he expressed the opinion that the burden should be shifted, from the users of the commodity to the general taxpayers.
– That is so.
– Does the honorable senator now say that this industry should be exposed to the cold blast of competition from well-organized opposition overseas? I assure him that cartels of manufacturers in Europe force up prices in countries where local industries have not been established, as witness the higher rates for galvanized iron in New Zealand and Argentina us compared with prices in Australia.
– We had a full-dress discussion on this item when the original request was agreed to by the committee at the instance of Senator Johnston.I do not propose now to traverse ground which was covered by various speakers on that occasion. But I should like to know what those honorable senators intend to do who favour pressing the Senate’s request? if the House ofRepresentatives again rejects the request from this chamber, will they favour the rejection of the bill, and thus precipitate a crisis, or will they consent to a restoration of higher duties? South Australia is directly interested in this item, because the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited is working ore deposits at Iron Knob, and has established subsidiary works at Wyalla, where the iron ore is loaded on steamers for transport to the Newcastle steel works. The demand by Lysaght
Limited for sheet metal is a substantial portion of the business which makes possible the continued profitable operation of the steel works. It also, indirectly, gives employment to a considerable number of people in South Australia as well as in Tasmania, its purchases from the Electrolytic Zinc Company amounting to about £157,000 a year. Thus three States benefit from the protection given to the manufacturers of galvanized iron in Australia. Lysaght’s works at Newcastle employ about 1,200 persons, and the wages bill is about £7,000 a week, or £360,000 a year.
– And they are not working at full capacity.
– Tha t is so. This, I suggest, is one of the major reasons why the protection hitherto given should be continued rather than that the industry should be fostered by a bounty, as has been suggested by Senator Johnston. It is hoped that, by this means, the industry will secure the whole of the Australian market, so that the plant may be employed to its full capacity, thus reducing overhead costs. A considerable amount of employment is given to waterside workers and coastal shipping companies in transporting the zinc from Tasmania to Newcastle. Approximately 3,000 persons are directly or indirectly employed in Australia in connexion with this industry, and assuming that the average, breadwinner supports a family of five, it may be said that 15,000 consumers depend for their maintenance upon the galvanized iron and related industries, and help to eat the wheat, meat, butter, eggs and other products of the section which Senator Johnston and others claim to represent in this chamber. The wheatgrowers, dairy farmers and other small farmers generally are in a serious plight at the present time, and the action proposed, by Senator Johnston would probably deprive them of the home market which they now enjoy because of the existence of this industry.
The duties on galvanized iron have not been applied in a haphazard manner. I suppose that, in the last eight or nine years, more inquiries have been held regarding the galvanized iron industry than any other. This industry was the sub ject of an exhaustive inquiry by the Tariff Board in 1925, another investigation was made in 1931, and in the following year a further complete inquiry took place. When it suits their arguments, honorable senators, with freetrade views, accept the recommendations of the Tariff Board; but why do they not accept them in the present instance, and agree to the British duty which was incorporated in the schedule in the other chamber in accordance with the board’s recommendation? Why not allow that rate to stand until subsequent inquiries show whether it should be altered? I hope that the committee will not press its request.
– Apparently my suggestion that certain individuals adopt an antiAustralian attitude has given some offence. It is said that on a pleasant sunny day, an Englishman of leisure likes to go out and shoot something, and I have noticed that whenever a tariff debate is in progress, freetraders are prone to do likewise. We have a triumvirate in this chamber of Country party leaders, and one scarcely knows whether to remonstrate with Senator Johnston, Senator Carroll, or Senator Elliott.
– The Country party has no leader in this chamber.
– At all events, one may give Senator Johnston credit for being the leading protagonist of freetrade in this committee, and in saying that I am not throwing a bouquet at him. He would almost lead one to believe that the previous decision of the committee was overwhelmingly in favour of lower duties on galvanized iron, but surely he has not forgotten that the vote on the item was sixteen to seventeen, and that, therefore, we on this side are hopeful that no great difficulty will be experienced in reversing that decision. The honorable senator said that the committee’s request for a reduction of the British duty had been received everywhere with approval, and that he had been inundated with congratulatory telegrams. Nobody advised me that the decision had met with general approval. If Senator Johnston will visit Newcastle with me, I shall give him an opportunity to learn how those engaged in the galvanized iron industry regarded that decision, and how delighted they would be if it were reversed. He is always claiming that the only pioneers are those living in the “ outback “. Yet one of the reasons for Australia’s present difficulties is that far too great a proportion of the people live in the capital cities. Senator Johnston claimed that the pioneers out back must carry the burden due to heavy duties on galvanized iron, because the roofs and walls of their houses are built of this material. I claim, however, that the thousands of workers in the big cities are equally entitled to be called pioneers, for without them, the pioneers in the back country would lose a valuable home market. Senator O’Halloran has shown that no fewer than 15,000 persons are dependent upon the galvanized iron and related industries. Senator Johnston pointed out that bounties had been given in the past for the purpose of assisting this and similar industries; but the honorable senator opposes bounties as vigorously as he objects to protective duties. Senator Carroll expressed the fervent hope that the committeewould adhere to its original decision on this matter. Considering that the request for the reduction of the British dutywas agreed to by a majority of only one vote, it is highly probable that that decision will be altered on this occasion.
SenatorFoll. - One honorable senator was unable to vote on the previous occasion because he was visiting a sick friend.
– That is so.
Senator Carroll said that he hoped that the committee would stand to its former decision. I hope that I shall never be classed among the “ stand-patters “. As one somewhat older than the honorable senator, I advise him not to associate himself with those who say that a thing cannot be done, lest he awaken to find some one doing the supposedly impossible thing. That the world is a place worth living in is due, not to those who have never changed their minds, but to those who have seen the wisdom of making a change. With all respect, I would remind the Senate that troglodytes like Senator Carroll have held back the tide of evolution in all ages. The honorable senator said
Chat a tremendous lot of hot air had been let loose on this subject. I would rather have the hot air that promotes the germination and development of Australian industries than the cold blasts of anti-Australian freetraders, whose only desire appears to kill everything which seems likely to become an important Australian industry. Senator Carroll was not quite fair when he said that I would be influenced by the opinion of his favorite authority, Mr. Essington Lewis. I have since confirmed my somewhat imperfect recollection of the facts, and am now in a position to say, authoritatively, that neither Mr. Essington Lewis himself, nor Broken Hill Proprietary Limited with which he is associated, has any interest whatever in Lysaght Limited industry, or owns one share in it.
At a later stage of the session we shall probably be asked to consider the adequacy of our means of defence against a possible foreign invader. I am not a warmonger, but I suggest that if we destroy the galvanized iron industry, we shall destroy an enterprise which could easily and quickly be converted into a means of assisting in the defence of Australia. This fact, and others which have been advanced by honorable senators on this side of the chamber, should be taken into account when we vote on this question. Any injury done to the galvanized iron industry may have serious and farreaching effects. Senator Elliott said that this industry was so successful that’ it did not need protection. The opponents of Australian secondary industries are most illogical and inconsistent. An infant industry is sneeringly described by. them as a “backyard” industry, not worthy of encouragement, because of its inability to supply Australia’s requirements. On the other hand, should an industry show that it can be fully successful and withstand competition, as the galvanized iron industry has done, that very fact is used as an argument for destroying it. I enter my emphatic protest against the anti-Australian attitude of some honorable senators. Surely the representatives of the Australian people in this Australian Parliament should stand for the encouragement of Australian industries.
Sitting suspended from 6.12 to 8 p.m.
– I was surprised to hear it stated by some honorable senators who defended the retention of a high duty on galvanized iron, that the price of this commodity in New Zealand where it is admitted free of duty and in South America is dearer than it is in Australia. If that is correct it upsets our conception of a protective policy, which I have always thought, results in raising prices. In this instance the position is completely reversed; but this may be accounted for by the fact that here in the antipodes, as this part of the world is sometimes called, many conditions are the opposite of those obtaining on the other side of the globe. On the other hand, four eminent economists in Australia, including Mr. Wickens, informed us that the annua.] cost ‘of a protective policy to Australia is approximately £30,000,000. If those four experts come into open conflict with the experts in this chamber, who inform us that galvanized iron is produced in Australia under a protective policy at a cheaper rate than it is obtainable in the countries I have mentioned, it is difficult to know whom Ave are to believe. We have only to turn to the report of the Tariff Board to find how this industry has fared. Up to three years ago a. duty of 20s. a ton was imposed on galvanized iron, and a bounty of £3 Ss. a ton also was paid; in effect protection amounting to nearly £4 10s. a ton was afforded. In addition, during the last few years the industry has received a substantial protection in the form of a high rate of exchange equivalent to £5 a ton, making a grand total of £9 10s. a ton, which, on a landed cost of £20 a ton. represents a protection of 45 per cent. There are some manufacturers who think that they are entitled to such high, protection. Those engaged in primary production receive only sympathy; they do not obtain any practical help. Of the £30,000,000 expended annually in giving effect to our protectionist policy, very little reaches the pockets of the primary producer. Generally speaking, galvanized iron should have a life of 40 or 50 years, but the quality of that produced in Australia is not equal to that obtainable some years ago. Some of the locally made iron can be bent as easily as paper, and the spring head nails will not stand a firm blow. The Australian galvanized iron manufacturers have done remarkably well compared with the primary producers, whose taxable income, according to a return laid before Parliament, was £12,000,000 in 1918; but to-day is only £2,250,000. On the other hand, the manufacturers, who started at the same time with a taxable income of £2,000,000, have to-day reached the £9,000,000 mark. The income of one section has decreased almost to vanishing point, while that of the other, which includes the manufacturers of galvanized iron, has increased enormously. Persons living in country districts will not remain there simply for fun. No one will engage permanently in a primary industry which does not show a profit, and many primary producers are now asking themselves if the game is “ worth the candle.” The committee has now to decide .whether the galvanized iron industry should bc protected to the extent of 45 per cent.
– A bounty of £3 Ss. a ton is not now paid.
– But the manufacturers receive the equivalent in the form of a higher duty. This industry is protected by two coats of cotton wool, and it is now proposed to add a third. The primary producers arc almost naked. Purchasers of galvanized iron in country districts usually require it. for erecting an additional room, or for some other improvement. There is nothing more convenient, for such purposes; but it now appears that they will be compelled to use hessian or bagging. They are not sufficiently optimistic to even contemplate purchasing iron. If we pretend to hold the scales fairly between those engaged in rural and urban districts, we must see that those who turn their backs on the cities have a better opportunity than they have to-day. If they are not treated fairly, they will return in despair to the cities.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– The representative of the Country party (Senator Carroll), and the representative of the United Australia party (Senator Lynch), have both invited us to weep over the hard lot of the farmers of Western Australia, and I have no doubt that many copies of their speeches will be distributed in the West so that their constituents may learn how doggedly they fought in the interests of i bat State. We have heard much of how the duty on galvanized iron bears heavily upon the primary producers. We know that, as a matter of fact, the primary producers whether in Western Australia, or elsewhere, do not own the galvanized iron on their homes or on their barns; it, belongs to Dalgety and Company, or the banks, or the insurance companies. Does Senator Lynch, who complains that the galvanized iron industry has been pampered and spoon-fed, think that the primary producers have no friends in the Labour party ? I notice that nothing has been said about the plight of the workers who will have to pay a penny a loaf more for their bread if the proposed flour tax is imposed. If the policy of the Government in regard to this tax is put into effect, the wheat-farmers will have the means to buy what galvanized iron they want with money provided by the workers of the towns and cities, who will have to pay the flour tax. The representatives of the primary producers in Western Australia cannot have it both ways. There are 15,000 persons in Australia to-day dependent upon the galvanized iron industry for a living. They eat bread and butter, and on every loaf of bread they buy, they will have to pay an extra penny if the flour tax is imposed. Senator Lynch, in replying to an interjection, said that a nation could not be made prosperous by pursuing a policy of protection. We are reading in the newspapers every day about the efforts being made in the United States of America to bring about economic recovery, but we know that that country, which now has a population of 125,000,000 people, achieved its greatness originally by following a policy of rigid protection.
The Newcastle works, where galvanized iron is manufactured, represent a capital outlay on laud, machinery and plant of £700,000, and arrangements are now in progress for further exten sions involving an additional expenditure within the next few months of approximately £50,000. Complaints have been made through the press and elsewhere that the prices charged for galvanized corrugated iron are excessive, and considerably higher than they would be if the works had not been established. This is incorrect, as the following figures show: - 26 gauge Orb galvanized iron, in cases, is selling at a wholesale price of £24 a ton in store, less discount varying from 5 per cent, to 7 per cent., and averaging 6J per cent. The net price is £22 7s. a ton. In Nev/ Zealand, where there is no duty, English 26 gauge Orb galvanized iron, in cases, is sold at a wholesale price of £25 15s. a ton in store, less 2^ per cent, discount, making the net price £25 2s. 2d. a ton. Thus, in Australia, where there is a duty of £4 10s. a ton on English iron, the net wholesale price is £2 5s. 2d. a ton less than in New Zealand where there is no duty. This shows that the Australian user is, at the present time, definitely better off as a result of the establishment of the local industry than he would be if galvanized iron were imported, duty free, apart from the value to the Commonwealth of an undertaking that is directly and indirectly employing 3,000 persons whose wages amount to £800,000 a year.
Senator Lynch must know that members of the working class - especially if they do their duty by keeping the cradles full, as most of them do - have to spend practically the whole of their wages on necessaries, including food. Thus, a great part of the £800,000 which the workers in the galvanized iron industry receive each year in wages goes back into circulation immediately, much of it to buy food produced by the farmers. If the Australian galvanized iron industry were destroyed, and we imported from England all the iron we used, the English workmen in Birmingham would not spend their wages in purchasing bread made from Australian wheat. Great Britain buys in the cheapest market, and is prepared to purchase wheat from Russia, a country governed by Communists, in preference to buying from Australia. Members of the Labour party, because they advocate the protection of an Australian secondary industry, are told they are the enemies of the primary producers.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
.- We all recognize the importance to Australia of the galvanized iron industry, concerning which Senator Dunn has just given us figures dealing with the number of its employees and the wages paid. Contrary to the opinion expressed by SenatorsCollings and MacDonald, senators who favour a reduction of duty, do not wish the destruction of this or any other industry. Having listened very attentively to the Minister (Senator McLachlan), who emphasized that, being in possession of all the facts relating to the industry, he was in a position to state correctly its position, I am more than over convinced that it is not now in need of greater protection than it has enjoyed hitherto. The Minister told us that users of galvanized iron in New Zealand and Argentine, where there is nolocal industry and no protective duties, have to pay more for this product than users in Australia. I understand that the Australian price is £2 5s. 2d. lower than the New Zealand rates. This significant fact is, I suggest, further proof that the Australian industry is permanently and well established.
– It is able to sell at lower prices only if it has the whole of the Australian market.
– I understand that that reason has been advanced on behalf of the industry. The Minister said that the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited is not financially interested in Lysaght Limited, but for some considerable time has been endeavouring, without success, to secure an interest in this subsidiary industry. The directors of Broken Hill Proprietary Limited are amongst the keenest business men in Australia, and from these negotiations we may, I think, assume that the present proprietors of Lysaght Limited realize fully the value of their asset and will not allow others to become possessed of it. This, again, is further proof that the industry is well established, and unless the Minister can advance more convincing arguments, I must vote in favour of the lower duty. I feel sure, however, that if the Senate had requested that the British duty be made £2 instead of £1 it would have been regarded by members of the House of Representatives as a more reasonable proposal. Perhaps, when the two Houses confer with regard tothis item, we shall reach agreement on a basis nearer to £2 than £1 a ton. Meanwhile, I intend to vote for the lower duty.
– My fiscal views are, I think, well known. I have always advocated a fair deal to Australian primary and secondary industries. Apparently Senator Elliott, who has just indulged in a little specious pleading, has overlooked the recommendations of the Tariff Board with reference to this item. The Tariff Board demonstrated very clearly that the only way in which this industry could reduce its prices was by securing the whole of the Australian market, and it may be as well to remind honorable senators of what has happened. In January, 1932, the price of galvanized iron, similar in quality to 26 gauge, was £26 2s. 2d. a ton; in February it was reduced to £25 3s. 7d. ; in March, to £24 4s.11d. ; in September, to £22 17s. ; and in May of this year it was brought down to £22 7s. 7d.I emphasize that these reductions have been possible only because the manufacturers have had the whole of the Australian market. Senator Lynch spoke of the advantage of the higher exchange rate. Let me remind him that Australian and New Zealand rates of exchange on London are the same, namely, 25 per cent.
– What firm sells galvanized iron in New Zealand?
– I assume that it is the English firm of Lysaght Limited. But does not- the honorable senator see that the Australian industry, having become established, is a valuable corrective against an increase of prices? The Tariff Board last year recommended that the British preferential tariff should be 90s. a ton, and the general tariff130s. a ton, provided the local manufacturers reduced their prices to a level which the board considered would ensure a fair profit. As I have pointed out, local prices have been reduced in the terms of the board’s recom- mendation, so it would now be a “breach of faith if Parliament altered its previous decision. I doubt that ‘the industry could be paid a better tribute than the acknowledgment by the board that, having had secured to it the whole of the Australian market, it has reduced its prices to below the New Zealand rates. If the Senate presses its request, and if the House of Representatives makes the requested amendment, bringing the British rate of duty down to 20s. a ton, the hurden of a bounty will be thrown on the budget which, as I have explained, will be unable to bear it. Then this industry will be exposed to the cold blast of overseas competition, and Australia might be deluged with galvanized iron Of inferior quality. Cannot those who claim to represent primary producing interests see that it is far better to ensure to the Australian manufacturer the whole of the local market, thus making possible supplies at a cheaper rate than would be obtainable from overseas firms after they had strangled the Australian industry? It is all very well for Senator Lynch to suggest that the duty recommended bv the Tariff Board is a burden on primary producers. Apparently, he overlooked the fact that the demands of city dwellers for galvanized iron are more than double the requirements of those who live in the hinterland of this country,, galvanized iron being required for the roofing of houses in urban areas and for all cheaper types of accommodation. All things considered, there is no justification whatever for the criticism which has been levelled against this Australian firm. One Cogent reason for the maintenance of the existing duty is the desirability of keeping out inferior grades of galvanized iron.
– Does the Minister suggest that British galvanized iron is of inferior quality?
– The honorable senator must know that various grades of galvanized iron are produced by all manufacturers. I have used imported iron much inferior in quality to that produced by Lysaght Limited at Newcastle. Honorable senators must decide between jeopardizing the Australian industry,, by pressing the Senate’s request, and ensuring its maintenance by accepting the duty which the Government proposed in the House ‘6i Representatives. If Senator Johnston’s suggestion were adopted, the primary producers would be placed in a. worse position ‘than under :the Government’s proposal. He argued his case on the assumption that a bounty of £3 10s. a ton would be provided by the general taxpayers, among .whom are the primary producers. The Government claims that those who import galvanized iron ought to pay the duties provided in the schedule. “With galvanized iron at its present price, the revenue derived from these duties will not be large, because the supply will be mainly met by the Australian production. I have every sympathy with those who feel that duties in general have been too high; but, in the case of galvanized iron, the evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of the maintenance of the present rates. The industry will be closely watched to see that the purchasers of this material receive a fair deal from the manufacturers. So far as I am aware> the department has received no complaints as to either the quality or the price of the local product. The industry is conducted on clean lines, and sells its goods at lower prices than obtain in New Zealand.
– The Minister was howling for a reduction of these duties two years ago.
– I have never advocated a reduction of the duties on iron and steel. The only satisfactory way to deal with the matter is to go back to the raw product, namely, pig iron; but honorable senators passed that item without discussion. The attack that has been made upon the galvanized iron industry is entirely unjustified. No charge can be effectively levelled against it. An honorable senator asked by interjection how many men are directly employed in this industry. The number is 1,200, and an additional 1,800 men are employed in producing bar iron, coal and other materials used in the manufacture of galvanized iron.
.- I was interested to hear the Minister’s reference to pig iron. Mention of the association of Broken Hill Proprietary
Limited with, the galvanized iron industry was made in the evidence tendered on behalf of John Lysaght (Australia) Limited at the inquiry held by the Tariff, Board. In its report, dated the 18th August, 1932, the board stated -
The principal item of cost in the production of galvanized, iron is the steel from which the sheets are rolled. This steel, which is in the form of sheet bars, is wholly produced in Australia, and is supplied by the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited. The price paid for steel is based on a fixed percentage of the net selling price at factory of 20 gauge “ Orb “ quality galvanized corrugated iron packed in skeleton felt-lined cases, after adjustments have been msi.de to cover fluctuations in the costs of zinc. Tt follows then that any increase or decrease in other costs of production (i.e., other than costs of steel and zinc) or profits, which necessitate an increase or decrease in the selling price of galvanized iron, results in an automatic increase or decrease in the price paid -for steel: therefore, the price received by the steel manufacturers is not necessarily dependent upon the cost of producing the sheet bars.
That paragraph shows a close association between the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited and the local manufacturers of galvanized iron. Evidently the cost of the steel supplied to Lysaght Limited is based on the price which the company can obtain for its galvanized iron. I am confident that the local manufacturers could carry on their industry successfully with a lower duty, and I am prepared to vote for the rate originally recommended by the tariff Board, namely, 40s. a ton. It must be admitted that some of the board’s criticisms of Lysaght Limited have been severe. The suggestion has been made that the company’s operations have been carried on in the interests of Australian primary producers, and that no profits have been made. Considering the company’s ramifications throughout Australia, the fact that no profits appear to have been made is not surprising. The hoard stated in its report -
Practically the whole output from Lysaght’s Newcastle ‘Works Limited is sold by John Lysaght (Australia) Limited, another subsidiary of John Lysaght Limited, Bristol, which was established some years ago to handle the product from the Bristol works. The allowance paid to John Lysaght (Australia.) Limited for selling Australian galvanized iron is fixed by “steel agreement.” which was entered into at a time when the costs for similar services were much higher than they are at present. Taking into con- sideration the actual services rendered by the selling intermediary the board considers that the present allowance would be very profitable to John Lysaght (Australia) Limited when the factory output is at or near capacity.
It is also interesting to read what the Tariff Board said on the subject of wages -
By an arrangement between the employer and employees, which is not registered in the Arbitration Court, piece-work rates are paid for most of the labour in the galvanized iron industry, and the rates, which were fixed ut a percentage above the English base rates for similar labour when the New South Wales State basic wage was £:< 18s. per week, increase or decrease as the State basic wage rises or falls.
The manufacturers have furnished particulars showing how costs of production over different tonnages would be affected by the adoption of the Federal basic wage (less the H) per cent, emergency reduction) instead of the State ‘basic wage, as the basis for determining piece-work rates. Any such reductions in costs would enable the manufacturers to sell at lower prices, and thus bring about,’ additional reductions in the price of steel: the cumulative effect of the reductions in wages and steel costs would permit of a reduction of approximately £1 14s. per ton in the gross selling price of galvanized iron.
While wages costs in many industries have been reduced during the last twelve months, there has actually been an increase in the galvanized iron industry. A small percentage of the employees whose wages are covered by federal awards have suffered reductions, but the re-introduction of the ‘44-hour week in New South Wales, and an increase in the compensation and family endowment rate have resulted in a. net increase of ls. 6d. per ton in the cost of galvanized iron produced.
About 85 per cent, of the wages paid in the galvanized iron industry are at piece-work rates. The highest paid piece-work employees working full time under present rates earn £10 ls. 4d. per week, and the lowest £4 7s. Od. per week, lt will be noted that the lowest, paid piece work employees can earn more than cither the Federal or State basic wage.
The board considered that if the company had paid similar rates of wages to those given by other companies under Federal Arbitration Court awards, the cost of-its product could have been reduced by £1 14s. a ton. This industry, of course, has been built up’ under our protective policy. I shall refer further to the profits which the company is capable of earning. On this matter, the board stated -
On an output of 00,000 tons per annum the board previously estimated that a reasonable allowance for profit would be 15s. 9d. per ton; this represents a rate of 7 per cent, per annum on the board’s estimate of capital employed in the industry, viz., £670,059.
That Ls a high rate of profit compared with that of other industrial companies. The board referred to the net profits, dividends, &c, of 60 industrial companies for the years 1928-29, 1929-30 and 1930-31, and showed that their net profits on shareholders’ funds amounted iu those years to 7.7 per cent., 5.5 per cent., and 2.6 per cent, respectively. There is a vast difference between the net profit of 2.6 per cent, in 1930-31 of 60 industrial companies, and the 7 per cent, profit of the company engaged in manufacturing galvanized iron. The final paragraph of the board’s recommendation reads -
The board in the absence of any advice to the contrary from thu Government must regard the primage duty iia likely to remain in operation, and following the procedure adopted in its last report on galvanized iron considers that the effect of the exchange position should be included as part of the effective protection. In these circumstances, the board is of the opinion that the British preferential tariff rate of duty on galvanized iron should bo reduced to £2 per ton. This rate will 1,10vide 7s. per ton more than is necessary to raise the “costs to purchasers “ of imported iron to the level of a, reasonable selling price nf the locally produced material, and is based on thi” prevailing low prices for galvanized iron in England, and a selling price for the local product which makes provision for a reasonable return on the capital employed in its production, selling and distribution.
I am quite prepared to stand by the report of the Tariff Board, which is an impartial body. The duty on British galvanized iron should not be reduced to 20s. a ton; but. in my opinion, a rate of £2 a ton would bc ample, and would enable this company to retain the trade, reduce prices still, further, and yet give a reasonable return to its shareholders.
– The discussion to-night has hinged chiefly on the alleged profits of the Australian company which manufactures galvanized iron. Honorable senators opposite who have criticized the company on that ground are themselves supporters of the profit-mating system. I arn not out to defend this or any other company which makes profits, for so long as I have the power to do so I shall continue to contend that the profit-making system is founded on human greed and selfishness. There are too many intermediate profits between the original cost of an article and its ultimate selling price. For many an article the purchaser pays from 10 to 100- times its intrinsic value. So long as the present system exists, so long, will these anomalies continue.
The number of employees at present engaged by John Lysaght Limited is approximately 1,200, and their weekly wages amount to £7,000, or about £360,000 per annum. It is estimated that a further 1,800 persons are indirectly employed in the production of the raw materials used in the manufacture of galvanized iron, so that about 3,000 men whose wages amount to approximately £800,000 per annum, depend for their livelihood upon the continuance of these works. Including their dependants, a. total of about 15,000 persons are dependent on this industry. All of them are consumers of primary products, such as milk, meat and butter, and, of course, all are consumers of wheat. During 1932, when the demand was not sufficient to keep the works going at full capacity, this industry used the following Australian materials: -
It is estimated that these totals will be increased by about 20 per cent, this year. Over 200,000 tons of coal is said to have been used in the manufacture of the steel purchased by this company. Practically all the raw materials used in the manufacture of galvanized iron, and in making replacements and additions to the plant, are of Australian origin, not more than 5 per cent, being imported. This enterprise also uses electric power extensively, its payments to the Newcastle corporation in 1932 having amounted to nearly £30,000. The benefits derived from the establishment of the local works are not confined to the purchase of raw materials and the distribution of wages, for in 1932 the company paid £30,000 to the various Australian shipping companies for interstate freight in addition to £12,000 wharfage fees, £7,000 for cartage, and over £18,000 to the New South Wales railways for railage from Newcastle to Sydney and. suburbs. Mopeover, the ramifications of the industry are such that all States have benefited in some measure from its establishment. The iron ore is obtained in South Australia and the zinc in Tasmania. Lysaghts’ Newcastle undertaking is the largest individual user of the product of the Electrolytic Zinc Company at Risdon, Tasmania. The company states that the industry has never been profitable, the dividends paid since its inception twelve years ago representing only 3^ per cent, of themoney actually expended, while its establishment has meant a heavy loss to John Lysaght Limited, of Newport, England, which company provided the funds, and in consequence of the loss of this, its principal market, has had to restrict its operations in the English works with no compensating advantage in the form of dividends.
Senators Carroll and Lynch referred to the effect on primary producers of higher duties on galvanized iron. As one who has been a primary producer, I know something of the troubles- which beset those engaged in primary industries, but I submit that, if the average farmer were made a present of all the galvanized iron that he required, he would not be a great deal better off. Indeed he would probably be forced to pay more to the financial institutions, which already have a strangle-hold on him. I do not believe in exploitation, but, surely there is. no exploitation in this industry, since the price of galvanized iron in New Zealand, where there is no duty, exceeds the price of this material in Australia.
– Why does not the Australian company sell some of its products to New Zealand?
– It probably has a better market in Australia. If we removed the duty from galvanized iron, and so destroyed the industry, the importers would immediately increase the price. On moral grounds, there is no more justification for supporting a policy of freetrade than one of protection, because both importers and manufacturers will exploit the public if they can. Unfortunately, the Constitution does not give us sufficient powers to control industry effectively, but it enables the Government to deal more effectively with exploitation by local manufacturers than by those overseas. Certain industries are essential to this country, and even at some sacrifice, they should be encouraged. The destruction of the galvanized iron industry would cause importers to form a ring to the disadvantage of Australian users of this material.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– I had not intended to speak on this subject, but some of the statements made to-day seem to call for a reply. Senator Collings said that the proposal for a lower duty on galvanized iron was carried by only one vote. Perusing the Journals of the Senate, in relation to the tariff, I find that on one day alone three motions for reductions of duty were not carried, because those who supported them could not muster one more vote. The “ Ayes “ and; the “ Noes “ were equal, and, according to custom, the question was resolved in the negative.
– There was a very “ thin “ attendance.
– There were fifteen on either side, when the items which included reapers, binders, and mining machinery was under consideration. The committee was equally divided and the duties were left unaltered.
The question of whether the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited is associated with Lysaght Limited was also raised. Senator Collings left the chamber and rushed back with the information that it is not. The association of these two companies is immaterial; so also is the question whether Mr. Essington Lewis, is or is not, associated with Lysaght Limited. But I have taken the trouble to look up Who’s Who in Australia, and I find that Mr. Essington Lewis is managing director of the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited, and of Rylands Brothers Limited, and a director of Lysaght Brothers, John Lysaght (Australia) Limited, and Vickers Commonwealth
Steel Products. It is therefore, rather ridiculous for an honorable senator to assert that Mr. Lewis and the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited are not in any way connected with the Lysaght companies. Mr. Lewis is a director of John Lysaght Limited, and Mr. H. R. Lysaght is a director of the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited. There is no earthly reason, against these relations, but I think that the honorable senator protests too much. If a director of one company attends meetings of another company there is at least a definite “ touch “ between the two.
Senator McLachlan said that if the cost of galvanized iron is to be reduced, attention must first be directed to pig-iron, but when the committee was considering pig-iron he did not say to us “ Now is your chance “.
– It was not my business to remind honorable senators of that fact.
– If the Minister was anxious that we should tackle the price of galvanized iron at the crucial point, he should have said on the item of pig-iron: “Here is your opportunity”. The Minister also said that the public is satisfied with the price charged for galvanized iron. The public is never satisfied with the price it pays for any commodity, and it is absurd to say that the users of galvanized iron are satisfied with the price at present charged. Surely every honorable senator knows that for years the price has been the subject of grumbling and dissatisfaction. The bounties paid on galvanized iron from 191.8 to 1930 were, roughly-
The people have nothing against such companies as the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited, Lysaght Limited, or Rylands Brothers. They realize that they are an asset to Australia, and they have no desire to force them out of existence. There is not the slightest fear that these companies, particularly the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited, will be compelled to discontinue operations; but while the circumstances of a multitude of persons, including most primary producers, have for years been getting steadily worse, these companies have been paying dividends. The public feels that it is only fair that such. companies should bear a share of the burden. These concerns are well managed by capable directors. The Broken Hill Proprietary Limited, under the chairmanship of the late Mr. John Darling, and, later, Mr. Harold Darling, has been admirably conducted, but the purchasers of the products of these companies contend that they also should make some sacrifice. With that’ view I associate myself. I have nothing against the companies; 1 wish them well, but I feel that under the tariff protection afforded, they are receiving a privilege which is denied to many others. An attempt is now being made to reduce the duty, although only to a slight extent,, for it is not reasonable or just that those who are so heavily protected by Government support, should be allowed to pay big dividends, while even more vital industries are left in the lamentable condition in which they are to-day. In the Tariff Board’s report of 1932, two suggestions were made.’ One was that lower duties of 40s., 75s., and 100s. respectively, should be imposed, and the bounty dispensed with. There was an alternative proposition, which the Government has adopted, under which prices are, in effect, fixed, and a monopoly of the business is granted to the company. I do not like monopolies. It is better for every one if business is on a competitive, rather than on a monopolistic, basis. It may be said that’ the reduction of duty proposed by the Senate in this particular item was rather severe, but it was one of the few items on which the advocates of reasonable duties were successful when the tariff was previously considered in this chamber. When the matter went back for reconsideration in the House of Representatives, an attempt was made to effect a compromise by adopting the first suggestion in the Tariff Board’s report of 1932, but that proposal was promptly rejected.
– The honorable senator does not think that the Tariff Board is a higher authority than Parliament.
– I have never suggested it. If the Government regards the Tariff Board- as the final arbiter, it lias from the board a report upon which it can act. But I do not think the Tariff Board should have the final word in these matters; customs duties must be decided by Parliament. We have alternative recommendations from the board. I trust that those who voted for a reduced duty will vote in the same way again, and that a reduction will eventually be agreed to. If, as suggested by Senator Elliott, the matter should have to be dealt with at a conference between the two chambers,, a reasonable compromise fair to all sections of the community may eventually be reached.
– I endeavoured to point out to the committee that in giving effect to a recommendation of the Tariff Board, the Government has placed the galvanized iron business in the hands of what Senator Duncan-Hughes terms a monopoly; but it is a monopoly which is giving a direct benefit to the people. The Tariff Board stated -
Provided the list selling prices of locally manufactured galvanized iron he immediately reduced to the basis of £24 10s. per ton, ex store, or £24 per ton, free on wharf, at main Australian ports, for 20-gauge “Orb” quality galvanized corrugated iron packed in skeleton felt lined cases, and provided that an undertaking be given that further reductions will be made at the rate of £1 14s. per ton for each £1 reduction in the wage basis, and by an amount commensurate with n.ny further reductions which may bo made in costs of production, the rates of duty bc fixed at -
Honorable senators appear to have lost sight of the fact that this industry is operating in a country with a population of less than 7,000,000 persons, and that if it had to submit to unreasonable competition, it, could not possibly succeed. It cannot produce galvanized iron at a lower price with the limited market available. The Tariff Board dealt with that aspect of the matter, not only in the report from which I quoted, but also in an earlier report. The board estimated that the output of the company should bo 60,000 tons- per annum. Some honorable senators have referred to the possibility of a compromise, but there is no suggestion of compromise by those who are opposed to this motion.
I appeal to honorable senators, partilarly those representing Tasmania, to recall the attitude they adopted in connexion with the carbide industry, which they contended is essential to Australia. The iron and steel industry is of far greater importance to the Commonwealth than is the carbide industry. The zinc which is used in the production of galvanized iron is the product of another excellent, enterprise, the electrolytic zinc works, situated near Hobart, Tasmania. I am not speaking in favour of an industry which is out to exploit the primary producers or the house builders of the Commonwealth; ,1 am pleading on behalf of an industry which, in itself, is worth while, whatever ils associations may be. Whether or not Mr. Essington Lewis is a director of Lysaght Limited I do not know, and I do not think that it matters, but, “according to the information in the hands of the Customs Department, the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited has no financial interest in Lysaght Limited.
– It is vitally interested in the price of sheet steel.
– That may be. but if Senator Grant advocates the use of imported sheet steel for the manufacture of galvanized iron, he is striking a blow at the very root of a vital Australian industry.
Senator Duncan-Hughes opposed the present duty because he objects to a monopoly. Of course, we all fear monopolies, and I hold no brief for many of the things done by this company in the past, but we now have it where we want it. The company is providing a good article at a reasonable price. If honorable senators who oppose this duty had their way, and the duty were reduced, the company would not be able to market, its product at the present low price, and a. serious injury would, incidentally, be inflicted on the sheet steel industry. Senator Grant chided the company for having increased its prices because of the high price charged for sheet steel by the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited.
– I complained that the price of sheet steel was based upon the selling-price of galvanized iron.
– We have received no complaint regarding the price of sheet steel, but Lysaght Limited have been unable further to reduce the price of galvanized iron because of the high price they have had to pay for zinc supplied by the Electrolytic Zinc Company of Tasmania.
– That company enjoys no protection, lt sells its product at world parity.
– There is no room for compromise here. Either we must load another £252,000 on to public expenditure at a time when we are budgeting for a deficit, or we must agree to the duty proposed by the Government.
– A good deal has been said by honorable senators about monopolies, and criticism has been directed against Lysaght Limited on that score. We know that, in other parts of the world, there arc cartels and trusts- which control various industries, and I am quite sure that if the Australian galvanized iron industry were wiped out, we should receive very scant courtesy from the overseas monopolies, at whose mercy we would he. The fact that the Australian manufacturers are selling below the price of English galvanized iron in New Zealand, shows that the Australian public are not being exploited, As a matter of fact, the primary producers, whose representatives are complaining so loudly against the duty, are actually benefiting from it, and if honorable senators who are members of the Country party vote against the duty, they will be doing a disservice to their own friends. In New Zealand, the wholesale price of galvanized iron is £2 5s. 2d. a ton higher than the Australian price. There is no duty on English galvanized iron entering New Zealand, but there is no local galvanized iron industry there either, and the New Zealanders are at the mercy of the British combine. As practical men we should be guided by facts. lt does not matter how the result -is arrived at, the fact remains that the price of galvanized iron is lower in Australia, where there is a local industry, than in New Zealand, where British iron is admitted duty free. Even Senator Elliott must admit the force of that argument. This Australian industry is of great advantage, not only to the primary industries, but also” to every man of moderate means who wishes to build a small home and cannot afford the cost of the more expensive tiles for roofing purposes. It has been demonstrated that the cost of galvanized iron to users in Australia is £2 5s. 2d. a. ton less than it is to users in New Zealand, where there is no local industry and no customs duty. These figures establish beyond all doubt the importance of this industry to Australia. Consequently, I shall very seriously doubt the bona fides of any honorable senator professing to represent primary-producing interests if he votes against the Government on this item. If, however, the Government is defeated, and the burden of the suggested bounty is thrown on the budget, we may have an opportunity to reconsider some of the Government’s budget proposals, and possibly may request the Ministry to review some of the coilcessions, such as the reduction of land tax and sales tax, in order to make good the deficiency.
– It is, I think, desirable that I should state a little more explicitly the benefit of this industry to the producers of zinc in Tasmania, because, a few minutes ago, Senator Grant stated that the. Electrolytic Zinc Company was supplying zinc to Lysaght Limited at world parity. I find, from the Tariff Board’s report, that in 192S the average price of zinc in Australia was £26 12s. Id., and in London £25 Ss. 9d. a ton ; in 1929, the Australian price was £27 8s. 2d., compared with a London price of £24 17s. 8d., and in the following year the Australian price was £18 3 9s. 3d., and the London price £16 16s. 9d. The price in Australia to-day is £24 19s., and the zinc produced is of excellent quality. In 1932, the board reported that the prices of some of the materials used in the manufacture of galvanized iron had increased since its previous inquiry, the aggregate increase representing an added cost of 5s. 2d. a ton. It will be admitted that the Australian manufacturers of galvanized iron have honoured their undertaking to reduce prices, nothwithstanding that the price for zinc to-day is £24 193., or an increase of £7 a ton since the Tariff Board submitted its latest report. While on this subject, let me remind honorable senators that world’s parity means the price of zinc in London, plus freight from London, plus exchange - a charge which actually is not incurred by the producers of zinc in Tasmania. My officers estimate that this additional charge against the manufacturers of galvanized iron amounts to between £50,000 and £60,000 a year. In its annual report for the year ended the 30th June, 1933, the Tariff Board stated -
Tariff duties which exclude external competition may tend to stabilize unduly high prices and encourage heavy profit-taking, or, by taking away the. pressure of competition, may reduce efficiency. Even where such results are not likely ‘because of keen local competition, the imposition of .prohibitive rates has frequently had a disruptive effect on the local industry itself, by inducing over-investment of capital in manufacturing plant, thus dividing output and increasing overhead, the reduction of which was the professed objective when the prohibitive rates were imposed.
The board, therefore, while heartily supporting the competitive principle in tariff-making, rejects the idea that duties should be merely equalizing. In established efficient industries where capital and overhead charges enter largely into production costs, the division of the present market between local and overseas producers, by restricting local output, would increase the costs of production, necessitating higher selling prices and the imposition of higher duties to restore reasonably competitive conditions.
A good exemplification of the foregoing Is the galvanized iron industry. In its report of 18th August, 1932, the board showed figures indicating that the costs of production on an output of 60,000 tons per annum would justify a selling price of £2 13s. Id. lower than with half that output, or 30,000 tons per annum. If a specific rate of duty were imposed, that would just bring the price of imported galvanized iron to the same level as that of the local product based on an output of 60,000 tons per annum, and the effect were to reduce the local output to 30,000 tons per annum, then it is clear that the duty would need to be increased by £2 13s. Id. per ton to ensure price equality,’ under the new conditions. Such a procedure -would be farcical, for it would involve considerable dislocation of industry, at least temporary idleness of large numbers of trained operatives and of some very highly valuable plant. Ultimately, the duty rate would have to be increased, and for some appreciable period the cost of galvanized iron, whether imported or local, would be higher than necessary.
The fact that the local industry has been given the whole of the Australian market has enabled it to bring down its price, and that is proved by the report of the Tariff Board itself. I implore honorable senators to accord a measure of justice to this industry, which has responded to the Tariff Board’s request for a reduction of the price of its product.
– I see no justification for Senator Elliott’s claim that, owing to the difference of £2 5s. 2d. a ton between the prices charged for galvanized iron in Australia and New Zealand, the duty on this commodity should be reduced. If the purchasers of this commodity were left entirely to the mercy of importers, the latter could charge any price they oared to impose. It is well known that manufactured goods are often sold at lower prices in countries which have adopted the policy of protection than in free trade countries. If we assist in building up the secondary industry of galvanized iron manufacture we shall help the primary industries. Senator Lynch remarked that our. first duty is to get people back “into employment so that they will be able to purchase the commodities of the primary producers. The £7,000 a week paid in wages to the employees in the galvanized iron industry, represents a purchasing power of considerable value to the community. Lack of purchasing power on the part of the masses is responsible for much of the world’s economic troubles to-day; but we shall not remove that disability by wiping industries out of existence. Our primary and secondary industries must progress hand to hand; otherwise both will perish.
Governments throughout Australia use large quantities of galvanized iron. In South Australia, some years ago, 1,000 homes !for workers were built in one group, under government supervision ; but the workers who purchased those homes did not complain of the cost of the galvanized iron in the roofs. They took a broad view of the matter, and recognized that they wore helping to build up an Australian industry. I have heard no complaints from farmers regarding the price charged for galvanized iron. When a farmer’s house and implement sheds have been erected, he may not need to purchase an additional sheet of iron for 20 years. If anybody has reason to complain of the cost of this commodity it is the worker.
Even though Lysaght Limited should show monopolistic tendencies, it would he a thousand times better to have a monopoly in Australia where we can control it than to remove a duty which would place users at the mercy of a monopoly in another part of the world. If the present law does not enable the Government to deal effectively with monopolies in Australia, there should be no difficulty in amending it to prevent exploitation of the public.
– The department is policing the galvanized iron industry at the present time.
– Yes. If we do not wish Australia to become a manufacturing country, let us be honest about the matter, and declare ourselves to be freetraders. Australia has always stood for the policy of protection, and, if this Parliament goes out of its way to destroy an important Australian industry, it will commit political suicide.
– England became a great manufacturing country practically under free-trade.
– Yet England has begun to erect a tariff wall. Lysaght Limited has established works in Great Britain, the United States of America, and Australia, and I wish the company every success in its Australian venture.
Question - That the request be not pressed - put. The Committee divided. - (Temporary Chairman - Senator Carroll.)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Alteration of Questions on Notice - Wheat Industry: Personal Explanation.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– This morning I submitted a series of questions to the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce), who asked me to give notice of one of them, which had reference to an employee of the Associated Press, named Brian Penton, who is connected with the Daily Telegraph. In my question I asked whether Brian Penton was an unfinancial member of the Australian Journalists Association, and had been expelled from the association on that account. I asked whether it is the policy of the Government to advertise in newspapers, including the Daily Telegraph, if it knows that the proprietors employ non-unionists or individuals so low and mean that they will not pay their union subscriptions. As I understand that it is proposed to place my question on the notice-paper with the name of Brian Penton omitted, I draw attention to the “Rules for the guidance of honorable senators in asking questions,” which are printed on the back of the notice form. Honorable senators are informed that questions should not contain “ statements of fact or names of persons, unless they are strictly necessary to render the question intelligible and can be authenticated.” My question contained a statement of fact, because the secretary of the Australian Journalists Association, whose offices are situated in Hamiltonstreet, Sydney, has informed me that Brian Penton was an unfinancial member of his association before his expulsion.
– The form also states that questions should not contain imputations.
– My question contained no imputation; it stated clearly and definitely thatBrian Penton was an unfinancial member of the Australian Journalists Association, and had been expelled from that organization because of non-payment of fees. In my opinion, Brian Penton is nothing more than a “ rat “ and a “scab “ working alongside other pressmen who are prepared to pay their fees to the Australian Journalists Association in order that the conditions of pressmen generally may be improved. I submit, Mr. President, that the excision of the name from my question is not justified, and I protest against the action proposed to be taken.
– I agree with Senator Dunn that there is no justification for removing the name of Brian Penton from his question. The Daily Telegraph seems to treat this pressman differently from his fellows, for he is permitted to criticize the proceedings in Parliament and members of Parliament under his own name. This man is, therefore, well known. In view of the matter which has appeared in the Daily ‘Telegraph under the name of this writer, it is only fair that the question asked by Senator Dunn should be answered, so that no one will be under any misapprehension as to the identity of the person concerned. There are at least two financial members of the Australian Journalists Association in this House, and I am one. We and a number of other members of the association would like to know if Mr. Penton is a member of that organization. I am one of the founders of the Australian Journalists Association, in the formation of which I took a most active part, and I have been a financial member of it for over twenty years. The members of the Australian Journalists Association pay a considerable amount each year to keep the association active, and I do not think that they support the disgraceful statements by this man concerning the members of this Parliament. After 40 years’ experience of journalism I claim to be a judge of what is fair comment in the public press. The “ hotch-potch “ which appeared in the Daily Telegraph a short time ago consisted of numerous misstatements and a general misrepresentation of the proceedings in Parliament. This man said that I referred to the pressmen as “ Hottentots “ and “ hounds “. I did not use those words, and the ascribing of them to me will do me a good deal of harm amongst other members of the craft. The article in the Daily Telegraph was a tissue of falsehoods,and a total misrepresentation of my remarks. Moreover, the matter was badly set up. The writer of this article said that full stops were apparently unknown to me; but in his report commas were misplaced, words and names were misspelt, and many other mistakes in composition, punctuation and printing occurred. As this man has criticized me so severely, I may say that I am willing to undergo with him an examination before any recognized authority on the English language and grammar, and the preparation of matter for print. “ I know something of Latin and French also.
– Why worry ?
– I am not worrying, and I should not have spoken on the subject had it not been raised by Senator Dunn. In addition to the misstatements and misrepresentations mentioned, the Daily Telegraph published over my name the photograph of somebody ‘else. This and other inaccuracies occurred in a paper whose representative is sent here to criticize us. The whole article was ridiculous, and a reflection upon the paper that printed it. I support Senator Dunn in the legitimate complaint he has made against the deletion of Penton’s name from the question which is to appear on the notice-paper tomorrow.
– Senator MacDonald said that there are at least two financial members of the Australian Journalists Association in this chamber, and that he is one. I am the other. I have not been a member of the association from its foundation, as at that time I was not engaged in journalistic work, but have been a financial member continuously for over fifteen years. For the last five years I have been a member of the New South Wales District Committee of the Australian
Journalists Association. As Mr. Penton’s name has been . mentioned, I shall state , the facts. Some time ago he was employed on the Sydney Morning Herald, and later left for London. Recently he returned to Australia. When lie left the Commonwealth he was indebted to the Australian Journalists Association to tho amount of approximately £3, and since his return he has refused to pay the debt. So far as J am aware, there is no industrial organization that has done moro for its members than has the Australian Journalist’s Association. There are many pressmen employed at salaries ranging from £10 to £16 a week who, but for the work of this organization, would not be receiving more than one-third of their present earnings. Prior to the establishment of the association, the working conditions of many pressmen were deplorable. That being the case, any man occupying a position such as Penton holds should not default in respect of his payments to the association. The fact that he has done so shows that he is of a contemptible type, and utterly unqualified to criticize others, especially in the manner which he has done so recently. 1 have not read what he has said about me, but it is probably true. Although the purpose of the articles was doubtless to hold me up to ridicule and contempt, I am too thick in the hide to bc disturbed by this criticism. Such statements may have some effect upon those who have not been in politics as long as I have been. T deprecate the action of this writer in holding others up to ridicule and contempt when his own conduct is more contemptible than anything that oan be rightly alleged against the honorable senators of this chamber or of the House of Representatives. Ho is also bringing disgrace on the craft of journalism, .which plays a most important part in the social and political life of this country.
[‘10.45]. - In. a personal explanation this morning, I stated that I had written a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald concerning a debate in this chamber on the assistance to be given to the wheatgrowers. In the course of that letter I pointed out that the report in that newspaper misrepresented the vote which was actually recorded. I complained this morning that the journal had not cor>rected the misreport and that the editor had not even acknowledged my letter. I have .just received tho following communication : -
Dt.li November, 1933. 10.15 p.m.
Dear Sir George Pearce-
The editor of the Herald has just advised me by telephone Unit he dirt not receive the letter from you which you rend in the Senate to-day. lie has madu inquiries in the office and chu fmd no trace of the letter having been received there. He hits asked me to inform you of this fu et. (Sgd.) H. S. Innes,
Canberra representative, John Fairfax and Sons Limited.
All 1 can say is that the letter was posted, and that apparently the postal department is to Maine. The communication I have just read explains the apparent discourtesy of which I complained this morning.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - Senator Dunn has complained of the excision of a name from a question of which be gave notice today. The question was, in effect, whether the Government was justified in giving advertisements and other business to a newspaper which had in its employ a person who had been expelled from the Australian Journalists Association because his contributions to that organization have not been paid. The question was brought under my notice, and my attention was directed to the fact that questions should not contain “ statements of facts or names of persons unless they are strictly necessary to render the question intelligible and can be authenticated.” The inclusion of the name would not, I think, render the question more intelligible. The conditions governing questions on notice also provide that they shall not contain imputations. Senator Dunn says that this person has been expelled from the Australian Journalists Association because of failure to pay his dues.
– Would yon call that an imputation?
– It is an ex parte statement, and in the absence of proof, it must be regarded as an imputation against the credit of this journalist.
Nothing is further from my mind than to suggest that Senator Dunn is fabricating thisstory. I do not know that I have ever seen Penton. But, presumably, he has a character of a kind to preserve, and an. ex parte statement in the Senate, such as Senator Dunn proposed, must reflect some measure of discredit upon him. Therefore, the provision against making imputations in questions is a justifiable -safeguard of the reputations of citizens, because it ensures that nothing may be said against them except what is beyond all doubt. Senator Dunn’s question contained the imputation that this person was expelled from the Australian Journalists Association because he was unfinancial. The publication of that statement must lower himin the estimation of his fellow men.
A little while ago, when a certain measure was before Parliament, members came in for a great deal of unfavorable comment from the press of this country. The newspapers delight in calling themselves the watchdogs of the people. Although they have not to go before the people as do members of Parliament, they take upon themselvesthe duty of guarding the public interest, and regard themselves as better able to perform that work than arc those who are specially elected for the purpose. I have had 35 years’ experience of public life in this country, and I know that too often the men who have given the best years of their life to the service of their country have ended their days in want. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Pearce) can bear me out in this, because be has often put his hand in his pocket to help men who, if they had not put the interests of their country before their own, would not have needed such aid. I cannot recall any newspaper editors who at the end of their service have been reduced to such straits.
To those members of Parliament who are apt to wilt under the lash of public criticism, I offer the advice which was once given to a young political aspirant, who thought that his character had been destroyed by a newspaper article. The advice, in effect, was “ Never mind the press while it is saying things about you. Whether the newspapers praise or blame yon is of little importance. Only when they say nothing about you, will you have reason to worry.”
I direct the attention of Senator Dunn to Standing Order 427-
Any senator complaining to the Senate ofa statement in a newspaper as a breach of privilege, shall produce a copy of the paper containing the statement in question, and be prepared to give the name of the printer or publisher, and also submit a substantive motion declaring the person in question to have been guilty of contempt.
If Senator Dunn feels aggrieved, he has power under that standing order to invoke the help of the Senate, and I have no doubt that, if he does so, the Senate will give him whatever satisfaction he is entitled to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate, adjourned at 10.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 November 1933, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1933/19331109_senate_13_142/>.