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Wednesday, 10 August 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- I am hopeful that I shall be .able to induce Senator Lynch to alter his opinion. I do not think he has grasped the position as I placed it before the Committee this afternoon. I have listened to the debate, but have no intention of replying to everything that .has been said by honorable senators. I shall confine my remarks to the more important points that have been raised on my suggestion that the duty on the raw material for the manufacture of wax candles should be reduced. One of the objections is that it will seriously affect the stearine industry, and I want to remind Senator Lynch that instead of the paraffine wax-candle industry being a fierce competitor of the. stearine-candle industry, the position is exactly reversed. The' stearine-candle industry is a fierce competitor of the. paraffine wax-candle industry, because the latter was started very many years ago, and was supplying the needs of Australia as far as possible with the machinery and capital at its command. The industry has been built up with a great deal of care and the expenditure of a large amount of capital, and it has been obliged to obtain its raw material from Rangoon, the only available source. No paraffine wax is procurable from Australian sources. A great deal has been said in opposition to my proposal because imported paraffine is the product of black labour. Does that affect the position? Cannot honorable senators, in perusing the . Tariff, find innumerable instances of raw material the product of black labour, but necessary for an Australian industry, being admitted duty free? Por instance, cocoa beans, which are imported chiefly, I understand, from Ceylon, are the product of black labour, but a day or two ago we agreed that, as the raw material of an Australian industry, they should be admitted free. I am asking now, not that the raw material of the wax candle industry shall be admitted free, but that the duty shall be Id. per lb., as under the Tariff of 1914. And yet my proposal is opposed. The history of Australian manufacturing industries is that quite a number of small enterprises that were of great value to the country, and made good progress in the early days, have been gradually squeezed out of existence by large firms which, combining and so commanding a colossal capital, have been able to use such influence, as to obtain a Tariff favorable to their particular businesses to the exclusion of all those carrying on operations in a small way. I say without hesitation that this high duty, which is equal tq 50 per cent, on the value of the raw product of the wax candle-making industry in Australia, has been brought in to suit a combination which commands a very large capital and is engaged in the manufacture of other candles. Its effect will be to put up the price of candles. If the wax candle industry of Australia be destroyed we shall be face to face with the possibility of a higher price to the users of candles.

Senator Henderson - Even if no wax candles were made in Australia the position would remain unaltered.

Senator PAYNE - I appeal to honorable senators to preserve the paraffine wax candle industry, which has been of great value to Australia. Wc should not allow our sympathies to go wholly in the direction pf a branch of the caudlemaking industry which employs 1,000 operatives when, by neglecting to look after the interests of the smaller capitalist in another branch of the same industry, we may jeopardize the employment of, say, 300 operatives. That, I think, is about the proportion of employment obtaining in the two branches of the industry. I learn that when this item was under consideration in another place the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) said the higher duty was necessary in order to prevent the stearine industry being prejudicially affected by importations of paraffine wax.

Senator Russell - Being swamped.

Senator PAYNE - Any one who suggests that there is any likelihood of the stearine industry in Australia being swamped by the local manufacture of wax candles can have no idea of the true position.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Especially when . we export millions of pounds' weight of stearine.

Senator PAYNE - Quite so. It has been suggested during the debate that those who support my request will be acting prejudicially to the interests of the primary producer.

Senator Duncan - That is a farfetched argument.

Senator PAYNE - It is; but it is often advanced to secure the sympathies of the primary producer. Those who have used it in relation to this proposal may be interested to learn that I am a primary producer. I raise cattle, and am as keen as is any man to get a good price for my stock. I recognise that graziers are dependent to some extent upon the tallow market, but if we were to ask 100 genuine farmers cultivating the land and raising cattle whether they were prepared to run the risk of having to pay a higher price for their candles as the result of the imposition of an extremely high duty on paraffine wax, they would reply that they were opposed to such a duty.

Senator Rowell - They do not use wax candles.

Senator PAYNE - Where are candles used, if not in the back-blocks ? For every candle used in large centres of population a dozen are used in the country.

Senator Henderson - Wax candles are of no use in the country districts of Western Australia.

Senator PAYNE - I come from a State with a more temperate climate, where for many years the manufacture of paraffine wax candles has been carried on. At one time there were several such factories in Tasmania, but they have been gradually squeezed out.

Senator Henderson - Because' wax candles are not suited to our climatic conditions.

Senator PAYNE - That is not so. The secondary industries of Australia have been built up, not by men possessing large capital, but in almost every case by men of small means who have been prepared to throw the whole of their energies into them. From time to time industries carried on by men with limited capital have been squeezed out by the larger concerns. I would not submit this request if I thought that a reduction of the duty would increase the cost of candles to the people or prejudically affect the stearine industry. Those en- gaged in the local manufacture of wax candles have put their product on the market at a reasonable price, and are as much entitled to consideration at our hands as are the large Combines. I am here to put up a fight for the small man whenever I can do so. At the same time, I have no desire to handicap the stearine industry. I realize that it is important to Australia, but am sure that it would not be injured by reducing to 1d. per lb. the duty on the raw material of the wax candle industry.

Senator Lynch - What about the 250,000 lbs. of paraffine wax which came in last year?

Senator PAYNE - The honorable senator might just as reasonably inquire as to the millions of pounds' worth of other raw materials which have been admitted free in Order to give employment in various secondary industries. Surely he does not suggest that we should shut out the raw material necessary to the continuance of the wax candle industry in Australia. Irrefutable evidence has been advanced that that industry is worth protecting, and that the reduction of the duty to1d. per lb. will not affect the larger industry of making stearine candles which hasbeen carried on so successfully in Australia.

Senator Lynch - I desire to move a request that the duty on paraffine wax under the general Tariff be reduced to 1½d. per lb. Shall I be able to do so after Senator Payne's request has been dealt with?

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap - Senator Payne's request is that the duty under the general and intermediate Tariffs be1d. per lb. In view of Senator Lynch's intimation, I shall put, first of all, the request that the duty under the general Tariff be1d. per lb.

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