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Wednesday, 10 August 1921

Senator REID (Queensland) .- We have heard too much of a desire on the part of the Minister and those who support him to crush an industry that was established under the previous Tariff. If the wax-candle industry is as flourishing as has been said, and is so essential in Australia, it will not be crushed by the proposed increase in the duty on wax. Senator Gardiner, in making so much of what he described as the contemptuous way in which the Minister referred to the coloured races of other countries, overlooked the fact that Senator Russell objected to the competition of the products of coloured labour purely on economic grounds, as he definitely stated. By the awards of Arbitration. Courts and in other ways we have established certain standards and conditions of labour in Australia, and we should not allow the products of cheap labour countries to compete with the products of industries carried on under Australian conditions. I would prevent the competition of the products of cheap labour countries, and for that reason I am in favour of "a duty on wax and on wax candles which come into competition with stearine candles made here from Australian raw material. There may bc a few hundred people employed in the manufacture of candles from imported wax, but the stearine candle industry, which produces the best candles, has progressed by leaps and bounds.

Senator Duncan - Without an increase in the duty. on wax?

Senator REID - I admit that that is so, but it is now threatened with the importation of cheap wax candles. Senators Duncan and Pratten have told us that the mines must have cheap candles. I know of no reason why mine-owners should prefer wax candles except that they are cheaper than stearine candles. That is a consideration which does not influence me in, dealing with this item. I have no desire to penalize the mining industry, but in compiling a Tariff we cannot consider every one, and I am concerned now to protect .the stearine candle industry, which should produce the best candles for use in mines, since they do not gutter and waste so much in a draught as wax. candles do. Every one knows that wax candles double up if used in a hot place, and for this reason they are of no use in Queensland in hot weather.

Senator Earle - Wax candles are of no use in a mine where there is a draught,

Senator REID - That is so. I am informed that there are 1,000 persons employed in the stearine candle industry, and the wages paid amount to £250,000 a year, while the candles are made entirely from Australian products. I come from a State that breeds better and more cattle than any other... State in the Commonwealthy and as stearine candles are largely made from tallow, . which is one of the by-products of the cattle industry, I cannot understand Protectionists objecting to an increased duty on wax. I know that the manufacture of wax candles is established in a small way in Sydney, and representatives of New South Wales desire to protect it.

Senator Duncan - It is established in Tasmania also.

Senator REID - The wax-candle industry in Tasmania is not worth mentioning. The centre of the industry is in Sydney.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - All that we are concerned about is to get fair play.

Senator REID - 1 am prepared to give the industry fair play. I should be quite prepared to vote for an increased duty on wax candles, but I am not in favour of a reduction in the proposed duty on wax, because in my opinion that would interfere with the stearine-candle industry, which uses entirely Australian materials.

As I have said, tallow is very largely used in the stearine-candle industry, and on this account the local price of tallow is higher than the price that can be obtained for it in London. That alone would be sufficient to induce me to vote for the proposed duty on wax.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - The local demand has not much effect on the price of tallow. We are large exporters of tallow.

Senator REID - I have no personal knowledge of the matter, but I have it on good authority that the present price " of tallow in Australia is higher than it is in London, and this is due to the demand for tallow by the stearine-candle industry in the Commonwealth. I direct the attention of senators from New South Wales to the fact that Mr. Upton, the gentleman whom they are sticking up for-

Senator Duncan - We are not sticking up for any gentleman, but for an in- * dustry.

Senator REID - He is at the head of the wax-candle industry in Sydney.

Senator Payne - Who is at the head of the honorable senator's opposition to it?

Senator REID - I believe that Kitchen and Sons are the principal makers of stearine candles; but I am not supporting Kitchen and Sons, but the industry in which they are engaged.

Senator Duncan - Then why should the honorable senator say that we are supporting Mr. Upton?

Senator REID - I wanted to say that in giving evidence before the Inter-State Commission Mr. Upton admitted that the stearine candle was the best on the market.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That may be so.

Senator REID - Then, why should we interfere with an industry that is producing the best candle made in Australia? I make the statement on authority that the price at which wax can now be imported .gives the makers of wax candles an advantage of 2d. per lb. over the manufacturers of stearine candles.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is not so.

Senator REID - I make the statement on authority, and if the honorable senator can prove that it is not well founded, he should do so.

Senator Duncan - The honorable senator should not make the statement unless he is able to substantiate it.

Senator REID - Senator Pratten has denied the statement.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I gave my figures; let the honorable senator give his.

Senator REID - I repeat the statement on the authority of those engaged in the industry. I have no desire, as a Protectionist, to injure any Australian industry; and while I am not prepared to support a reduction of the duty on wax, I am in favour of giving the wax-candle industry an equivalent by increasing the duty on wax candles.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - If the Minister will say that, it will settle the matter.

Senator REID - I do not know what the Minister is prepared to do. I have said what I am prepared to do myself. In my view, if the" community wants wax candles made from a raw product imported from a -cheap-labour country, I would let the community pay for them. I am personally in favour of the Australian product made from Australian materials.

Senator Payne - Why did not the honorable senator adopt that attitude on a previous item?

Senator REID - So far as I know, that is the attitude I have adopted on every item in the Tariff.

Senator Payne - Why did not the honorable senator insist on a duty on cocoa beans, which are admitted free, though they are grown by black labour?

Senator REID - Where are cocoa beans grown here?

Senator- Duncan.- They might be grown in Queensland.

Senator REID - There are many things which, in time, may be grown in the tropical climate of Queensland. When the cocoa-bean industry is started in Australia I shall be prepared to support it. If my honorable friends from New South Wales will make a request for an increase in the duty on wax candles, I will support them, but an Australian industry carried on by the use of Australian products will have my preference every time.

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