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Wednesday, 10 August 1921

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap (TASMANIA) - If Senator Duncan objects to a statement the Minister has made, and regards it as offensive, I ask the Minister to withdraw it.

Senator RUSSELL - I have no desire to be offensive, but when I challenged the statement that Senator Duncan made, .he did not object.

Senator Duncan - I did not hear the Minister challenge the statement.

Senator RUSSELL - If my remark is regarded as offensive I absolutely withdraw it. What I said was that, while the honorable senator had no objection to black men producing wax for us, he had an objection to them producing candles for us.

Senator Duncan - Quite right.

Senator RUSSELL - If that statement is offensive I withdraw it.

Senator Duncan - That is not what the Minister said just now.

Senator RUSSELL - What I said was that the honorable senator acquiesced by taking no exception to my statement that paraffine wax from black-labour countries would compete against our stearine, -which i3 produced by white men under whitelabour conditions. There is nothing done to the paraffine wax when it gets here but to melt it and mould it, whereas in the case of stearine, we have to take into consideration the rearing of cattle, the obtaining and refining of the tallow, and so forth, which all go to build up magnificent industries in this country.

Senator Payne - The stearine industry has gone ahead by leaps and bounds, whereas the wax candle making industry has not gone ahead.

Senator RUSSELL - Wax candle making has been a decaying industry, but I believe the information given me that, plus the duty, paraffine wax is still cheaper than the stearine in Australia, is correct. We are asked practically to subsidize an industry which is not carried on by Aus- I tralian labour under Australian conditions, and thus injure a purely Australian industry. It is our duty to stand by Australian industries, and to protect them from the competition - of cheap coloured labour. I understand that some paraffine is produced in Australia, and an industry might be developed; but the idea to-day is to protect our big Australian industries. There are about six countries, all coloured, that send paraffine wax here, and if we encourage that trade it means that we simply support cheap competition. The statement of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia is to this effect -

The stearine industry benefits the farmer, grazier, and worker, and is a key industry.

If it is to be saved, the duty on paraffine wax of Id. per lb. British preferential, 1 1/2d. per lb. intermediate, and 2d. per lb. general Tariffs, must not be lowered. Candles can be made from Australian tallow or imported paraffine wax, and in the process of the manufacture of stearine candles 1,000 tons of glycerine is annually produced, sufficient to make 2,000 tons of cordite. This is sold to explosives and ammunition works; and during the war, besides supplying local demands, large quantities were placed at the disposal of the British Government.

Senator Gardinermade some reference to that phase of the question yesterday as it relates to America; but even America, so far as I know, consented to the embargo on glycerine, because in that country manufacturers do not use glycerine in the making of ammunition, whereas France and England do.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - How do you explain the position of the wax candle industry to-day?

Senator RUSSELL - I am sorry for the individuals concerned, but we cannot subsidize the industry in the way proposed.

Senator Gardiner - It is only suggested that the duty shall be left where it was.

Senator RUSSELL - That would open us to the competition of the "world.

Senator Duncan - The candle industry grew under the old Tariff.

Senator RUSSELL - But the stearine industry is more than a candle industry, for it produces glycerine, and, as already shown, gives employment throughout Australia in the rearing of cattle and so forth.

Senator Duncan - And will continue to do so no matter what duty is imposed.

Senator RUSSELL - But But why practically subsidize foreign industries to the detriment of our own? Our stearine industry is one of which any country ought to be proud, and such an industry ought not to be kept back because of some little temporary advantage for a few employees or manufacturers.

Senator Gardiner - It is the big industries that the Government support; the smaller industries cannot afford to get consideration.

Senator RUSSELL - Assertions are easily made, and that is one assertion that has to be proved. I do not think I have discussed the item of candles with any of my colleagues. However, to once more refer to the statement by the Associated Chambers of Manufactures-

There are eight factories in the Commonwealth employing directly 1,000 persons, The annual wages paid amount to approximately £250,000, and, in addition, the making of stearine indirectly employs a large number of hands, and uses 25,000 tons of coal a year; the cost of all of which is spent in Australia among Australians. Paraffine wax is wholly imported, and the cost of producing it is spent among black labour, whilst the using of paraffine wax instead of stearine for candle-making would also mean importing Australian requirements of glycerine and oleine. It might be mentioned that for the manufacture of stearine all the money for wages and purchase of materials is spent in Australia, whereas all the money spent in the purchase of paraffine wax is sent out of Australia, and the money spent in making it goes to black labour.

These are statements which I do not think can be denied.We are here to legislate on a constructive policy, not for other countries, but for Australia ; and the view taken is that of Protectionists throughout the world. Why do we insist on a White Australia? It is not only because we object to the nationalities of other countries

Senator Gardiner - We do not object to those people in their own countries?

Senator RUSSELL - No.

Senator Gardiner - Then why speak of them in the way you are doing now?

Senator RUSSELL - Because this is not a national question, but an economic question. If, as in the olden days, hordes of Chinamen and other coloured men were permitted to come here to build railways and carry out other works for a few shillings a day, the labour conditions here would certainly deteriorate; and if we permitted that sort of thing in. regard to one line of industry, why not in regard to all, and let the White Australia policy go ? My own opinion is that this stearine industry will be one of the grandest in Australia. We have to consider the greatest good of the greatest number in this country, and to that end there must be a healthy development of the stearine industry. The two industries now under consideration cannot be compared, and it would be a bad policy to injure the great stearine industry in order to keep going what might be called a " dead beat " industry.

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