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Thursday, 10 June 1926

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) . - The protection which the Government proposes to give the industry is justified by the Tariff Board, which inquired into the subject, and, without any hesitation, recommended the imposition of the duties set out in this item. It is a surprise to me that honorable senators who were returned pledged to support the protectionist policy of the Government, as announced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) at Dandenong, prior to the last election, should be in any doubt as to their position in this debate. Senator Payne has made some extraordinary statements during this discussion. He has told us that there is a duty of 500 per cent, on this item.

Senator Payne - I must ask the honorsenator to withdraw that statement. I never said anything of the kind. I said that the duty proposed now is 525 per cent, higher than the duty in the 1921 tariff - a totally different thing.

Senator FINDLEY - The honorable senator has made his position worse by his explanation, because there was no protective duty on thi3 item in the 1921 tariff. A revenue duty was imposed, because the industry was not then in existence, and the honorable senator supported that revenue duty. It now appears that he is against a protectionist tariff.

Senator Payne - I am not. My requested amendment w111 give 40 per cent, protection to this industry.

Senator FINDLEY - Then the honorable senator is opposed to the Tariff Board's recommendation, which, I remind him, was framed for the purpose of enabling the industry to be established.

Senator Payne - I am not against the industry. We are not in the same position as the honorable senator and his party on these tariff items.

Senator FINDLEY - If the manufacturers of this country were dependent on protectionists of the Senator Payne type, they would find themselves in a very difficult position. We know the conditions under which glass is manufactured in those continental countries that will be the chief competitors of the Australian industry. Employees in Belgium and elsewhere on the Continent have to' work seven days a week, and, I understand, that even children are employed.

Senator Crawford - Women and children chiefly.

Senator FINDLEY - I have been in countries where men and women have to work seven days a week, so I know what it means.

Senator Payne - The honorable senator is talking about conditions in Belgium.

Senator FINDLEY - Yes, because most of our importations of glass come from that country.

Senator Payne - My request does not affect the general tariff at all. The honorable senator, like the Minister, ignores that fact.

Senator FINDLEY - And, apparently, the honorable senator desires to see heavier importations from Britain, with a consequent reduction in the output in Australia. I am concerned about the Australian industries, and the welfare of Australian workers, and I say it is absolutely impossible for this industry to compete, without a high protective duty against countries where the employees have to work inordinately long hours and, in some cases, seven days a week.

Senator Payne - Employees do not work seven days a week in Great Britain.

Senator FINDLEY - I am aware of that; but assuming that 25 per cent, of our importations are from Britain, are we not justified in protecting the Australian manufacturer against acute competition by established industries there to the extent of 25 per cent, of the importations ?

Senator Payne - I am in favour of protection.

Senator FINDLEY - But the honorable senator does not go far enough. I am guided by the Tariff Board's recommendation. Members of the committee know where I stand with regard to these protectionist duties. I believe in a fair measure of protection for the establishment of industries that mean so much to Australia. A few moments ago I heard one honorable senator say that the imposition of these duties would probably mean an increase in the retail price of glass used for windows in the homes of work people. Therefore, he argued, we should hesitate about imposing that burden upon the working man. It has been remarked that the extra cost on each house would not be more than 4s. or 5s., and it seems to me that, since a wellbuilt house generally lasts a life-time, the slight extra cost of Australian glass would not be a considerable item. According to a statement I have before me, all the materials required for the local production of sheet glass, with the exception of soda ash. will be essentially Australian. Limestone will cost 100 per cent., fuel coal 59 per cent., silica bricks 92 per cent., case timber 55 per cent., and wages 139 per cent. more than the cost in Belgium.It may be that this industry will become a monopoly. In a measure I am opposed to monopolies; but some of them are helpful in that they lead to economy in production. Although I prefer to have monopolies controlled by the community, private monopolies, provided they do not exploit the people, may serve the community more satisfactorily than four or five establishments that do not march with the times, so far as production is concerned. We have the assurance of the Tariff Board that, if the needs of the community are not properly met, further inquiries will be made into the conditions prevailing in the industry. If the protection recommended by the Tariff Board is inadequate, an opportunity will be afforded later to give the industry sufficient protection. The board says that this is an industry that should be encouraged, that the duty now suggested will be helpful, and that the community will receive a fair deal. The probability is that, while the committee is discussing this sub-item, the importers are actively at work accumulating as much glass as possible under the present tariff.

Senator Payne - The Australian Glass Manufacturing Company has been doing the same.

Senator FINDLEY - Does the honorable senator mean that those who desire this protection have been importing as much glass as possible under the revenue duty?

Senator Payne - What is wrong with that ?

SenatorFINDLE Y . - It does not exactly harmonize with statements made to me to the effect that persons other than those engaged in this Australian industry have been doing all they can to injure it.

Senator Payne - When one desires to start a business one naturally collects the material required to enable operations to be put in hand.

SenatorFINDLEY. - I am dealing with the honorable senator's request, and I intend to oppose it. I hope that the division, if taken, will prove to Senator Payne and other so-called protectionists, that they will receive little or no quarter in their demand for lower duties.

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