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Friday, 26 August 1921

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister for Defence) . - I have to direct the attention of the Committee to a few facts in connexion with these items, which I feel sure will induce Sena- tor Duncan to withdraw his request. Before the war, in 1913, the values of the imports from different countries were as follows : - United Kingdom,. £67,000; Germany, £72,000; Japan, £9,000; other countries, £23,000, making a total of £173,000. In 1918-19 the figures were-

United Kingdom, £56,000; Germany, nil; Japan, £207,000. What happened, of course, was that, Germany being out of the business, Japan collared the market, and our imports fromthat country went up from £9,000 in 1913 to £13,000 in 1914, £57,000 in 1915, £90,000 in 1916, £104,000 in 1917, £207,000 in 1918-19, and £132,000 in 1919-20. Some of these goods in small quantities axe manufactured in the Commonwealth. There are seven factories established in Australia - four in Victoria: Australian Porcelain Company, Yarraville ; Sunshine Porcelain Company, Sunshine; Firebrick and Insulator Company, Kingwood; and Miller's Pottery, Coburg; two in Sydney: Fowler's Pottery and Miller's Pottery; and one in Perth: the Calyx Porcelain Company. The raw material used is entirely Australian. There are 200 men employed in the industry, the wages paid amount to £1,400 per fortnight, the capital invested is £116,000, and the value of the plant £89,000. The imports, as I have already indicated, are chiefly from Japan. There are deposits in Australia of the raw materials required. Porcelain and other clays of good quality have been found in Tasmania; and in Kangaroo Island, where the first pottery mill in the Commonwealth was established, there are vast deposits of felspar, china-stone, and silica. There is a large demand for the articles included in these items, and it is expected that, with a reasonable protection, there will be a substantial growth in local manufacture.

Senator Lynch - Are our manufacturers making household crockery?

Senator PEARCE - They are making some. The honorable senator will find, in the Commonwealth Parliamentary refreshment rooms, teapots and cups and saucers that were made in the Brunswick factory. The 1920 Tariff aims at a reasonable protection for the Australian manufacturer, and at the giving of a sound preference to the United Kingdom. This is necessary, in view of the grip that Japan is getting on the Australian trade. Some reference has been made to what we owe to Japan; but it should not be forgotten that Japan had her own interest in the war, and, though we may owe something to that country for war services, we. owe infinitely more to Great Britain.

Senator Rowell - Is the Minister prepared to accept the original proposal of a duty in the general Tariff of 40 per cent. ?

Senator PEARCE - No. In view of the figures I have quoted, I think that what is proposed in the schedule is required to give an effective preference to Great Britain.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Do we send something to Japan in return for the goods we receive from that country?

Senator PEARCE - I do not think that we send very much to Japan. In August, 1919, the Australian Porcelain Company, of Melbourne, submitted figures showing that several lines of insulators from Japan were sold in Australia at prices up to 35 per cent, below that of the locallyproduced article. It will be admitted that we should be self-contained in the manufacture of insulators for telegraph and telephone purposes. The company pointed out the difference in wages paid in the two countries at the time. Skilled tradesmen in Australia were paid £3 6s. to £4 per week of forty-eight hours, and in Japan, 7s. 6d. to 9s. per week of sixty hours. Unskilled labour was paid in Australia a " minimum of £3 per week of forty-eight hours, and in Japan from 4s. to 63. per week of sixty hours. So far as the statement regarding Japanese wages is concerned, the Australian Porcelain Company's figures are not up-to-date. The Board of Trade has supplied the following information, which was taken from an address delivered by Mr. E. F. Crowe, C.M.G., Commercial Counsellor of the British Embassy in Japan, published in the Board of Trade Journal in July, 1919.:-

Wages in Japan: Skilled men, 5s. to 7s. per day; unskilled men, 2s. per day. In addition to these rates, there is always a bonus given twice a year to workmen equal to at least one month's wages.

Hours worked in Japan: The average is given as seventy hours per week. There is no regular half-holiday on Saturday or holiday on Sunday. The general rule is to give two holidays per month.

The Japanese Consul in Melbourne, in asking that the intermediate Tariff should apply to Japan, advised that, in comparing Japanese wages with those paid in, Australia, it is necessary to remember that Japanese factories employ two, three, or sometimes four persons to perform the work which one European or Australian might do.

We should, I think, remember that the pottery industry is one of the oldest established in the United Kingdom. English pottery has. been famed throughout the world. The industry has been dealt a deadly blow by the war, and I think we should do something out of the ordinary in the circumstances to give this industry in Great Britain a definite preference. The difference between the British and general Tariffs now is only 25 per cent., and the Committee has agreed to a 20 per cent, general Tariff in the previous item. I appeal to the Senate to maintain the item as it stands.

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