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Thursday, 1 July 1920

Mr TUDOR (Yarra) .- First of all, I congratulate you, Mr. Chanter, on your restoration to health, and on seeing you again in the chair. I am reminded of the fact that you occupied the same position many years ago, when we were discussing the first Tariff introduced by the late Honorable Charles Cameron Kingston. I thought that the other business on the notice-paper would have kept us busy for at least the first sitting after the recent adjournment, and it comes as a surprise to me to-night to have to discuss the Tariff. In fact, I am not now in a position to do justice to the subject. However, there are one or two principles in the Tariff about which I would like to say a few words. The Minister (Mr. Greene) has pointed out that this schedule differs from its predecessors through having three columns, one containing the duties against Great Britain, another called the Intermediate Tariff, which is to be applied to goods coming from other countries with which we have reciprocal arrangements, and a third containing the General Tariff. There was only one column in Mr. Kingston's Tariff, and the duties which it imposed operated against every country. However, prior to 1907, we entered into a reciprocal arrangement with South Africa, and in the proposals brought forward by Sir William Lyne a separate Tariff operated against that country which is more favorable to them than even the preferenceto Great Britain. Conferences have been held with representatives of other countries for the purpose of entering into a similar arrangement. It was my privilege to confer with Mr. Foster, of Canada, with a view to arranging a reciprocal agreement with that country, and with the same object I also con ferred with Mr. Fisher, representing New Zealand. I think it is best to place in the first column the duties operating against the countries with which we have reciprocal arrangements. I am not too keen on a three-column schedule, but I am most anxious to have all our Tariff arrangements in one measure. The arrangement with South Africa is apparently covered by a separate measure.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - Once this Tariff is through, all our reciprocal arrangements will be covered by it.

Mr TUDOR - If we have all our Tariffs in one measure, we know exactly where we are.

The principle of deferred duties introduced in this Tariff is a good one. There are twenty-two items in which the duties are deferred. The Minister has mentioned some of them. For instance, the duty on iron and steel, plate and sheet, up to and including one-sixteenth of an inch in thickness, is set out in the Tariff as follows : -

British Preferential Tariff, free.

Intermediate Tariff, 5 per cent.

General Tariff, 10 per cent.

But on and after the 1st January, 1922, the respective rates will be -

British Preferential Tariff, 65s. per ton.

Intermediate Tariff, 82s.6d. per ton.

General Tariff, 100s. per ton.

Generally we cannot afford to give notice of our intention to impose a duty, otherwise there would be an immediate stocking up. If a whisper should get around that it is the Government's intention to increase the duty on whisky, there is an immediate clearance from bond. However, in certain lines, such as iron, and many other commodities, it is impossible to stock up to any extent. There might be some cases in which importers would import with a view to filling up their warehouses or yards, but that could not be done to any great extent. On the other hand, by deferring the duty in the way suggested, we give ample notice to any person who intends to manufacture the article covered by it of our intention to afford him certain protection after a specified date. I agree with the principle. There are, however, two items in which a wrong principle has been adopted in this Tariff. Duties are placed on articles which we have never manufactured here. For instance, the duty on cotton hosiery was10 per cent, against other countries except Great Britain, but now it is proposed to impose the following duties on these goods.: -

British Preferential Tariff, 30 per cent.

Intermediate Tariff, 40 per cent.

General Tariff, 45 per cent.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - We are manufacturing tens of thousands of pairs of cotton socks and stockings.

Mr TUDOR - I shall be pleased to know where they are being manufactured.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - I gave the whole of the information a little time ago in answer to a. question submitted' by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr Gregory).

Mr Lazzarini - I have never seen any cotton socks or stockings manufactured in Australia.

Mr TUDOR - I do not think any one else has. It is useless to place a duty on cotton hosiery in order to compel people to wear woollen hosiery. In certainpartsof Australia woollen hosiery could not be worn. I do not object to the imposition of an extra duty on silk stockings - they are more or less a luxury - but I do not think that women will wear merino hosiery. This is an item in which the duty might well have been deferred. For one thing, it is impossible to get machinery for the manufacture of hosiery. That is our greatest trouble today in many of our industries. If we go abroad, and endeavour to purchase machinery for the manufacture of our woollens, we are told by the engineering firms that we must wait two or two and a half years before our orders can be fulfilled. In the circumstances, the imposition of a duty on cotton socks and stockings would be a penalty on Australia.

I took up the same attitude in regard to cotton piece goods when the first Tariff was introduced into this Parliament. I know that in Ipswich, in Queensland, a little cotton piece goods are manufactured.

Mr.Corser. - The people there are turning them out now, and at a profit. Cotton is grown in Queensland, and we ought to encourage it.

Mr TUDOR - That may be so, but would the honorable member vote to impose a duty on all cotton piece goods to the value of millions of pounds, which we, have to import into Australia, simply because some cotton piece goods are manufactured in Queensland?

Mr Corser - I think the honorable member will find there is a firm manufacturing cotton piece goods in Victoria.

Mr TUDOR - I do not think so. I do not think that ordinary cotton piece goods are manufactured in Australia. For one thing, there is a shortage of cotton all over the world. I stand with any honorable member in seeking to protect and extend Australian industries, but, at the same time, I do not propose to place a duty on an article we are not manufacturing here. I would rather increase the duties on articles we are manufacturing in Australia, so that the manufacturers may have an opportunity of establishing themselves.

In 1906 the new Protection was brought forward in this Parliament, not only in order to give Protection to the manufacturers, but also to provide something for the workers. We fixed certain duties on harvesters and a few other farming implements, but at the same time we provided that unless the manufacturers paid certain wages to their employees, and sold at a certain price to the farmers, smaller duties would be imposed.

Mr Prowse - It turned out to be illegal.

Mr TUDOR - Yes. As soon as the manufacturers got this additional protection they turned round and fought, not the farmer, but the worker. That is what Hugh McKay did, also Barger, whose case went before the Court, which held that the new Protec ion was ultra vires.

Mr Bell - The manufacturers charged the farmer increased prices.

Mr TUDOR - Of course. I have dealt with Mr. McKay previously. When we have the men here, it is our own fault if we do not deal with them, because we cannot do so when they are in America, or in some other part of the world. I have greater contempt for the sweater in our midst than the sweater abroad, although they both rob the workers. The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Gibson) was quite right in a statement he made at Camperdown or Colac that if the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) was anxious to shoot the profiteer, he could do so by pointing his guns in an easterly direction from a window in Parliament House. The honorable member may have been a little wrong in his geography, as he was doubtless referring to Flinderslane, which is in a southerly direction. His statement, however, was quite correct in other ways, as the profiteers in Victoria, at any rate, are nearly all centred in that thoroughfare. There are manufacturers, in places other than Flinderslane, but if they are not in Australia, we cannot deal with them at all.

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