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Thursday, 4 September 1902

Mr WATKINS (Newcastle) - The honorable member for North Sydney says that the use of these oils will not injure the coal industry ; but I regret to say that the coal miners of New South Wales are already feeling the effect of the competition of mineral oil on the Western coast of America, and as the result of the competition, many of our miners are working only three days a week.

Mr Thomson - We cannot interfere with competition which is taking place outside the Commonwealth.

Mr WATKINS - But an effort is now being made to establish this competition within the Commonwealth. A good deal has been said about lobbying at various times, but there has been more lobbying in regard to this item, and on behalf of, possibly, the largest trust in the world, than in connexion with any other item in the Tariff. I do not object to persons placing what they consider to be the facts of any case before honorable members, but it is rather much to find that a solicitor is engaged one night in lobbying on behalf of a protective duty, and the next night in endeavouring to secure the admission of certain articles free.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - How many members did the honorable member ask not to vote at all 1

Mr WATKINS - I did not ask any one not to vote:

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I know that the honorable member did.

Mr WATKINS - That is absolutely incorrect, and I demand a withdrawal of the statement.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If my honorable friend objects to it I withdraw it ; but I know that requests were made to honorable members not to vote, and that some of those who were in favour of the remission of the duty did not vote.

Mr WATKINS - The duty originally proposed was 3d. per gallon, and it has been reduced .by stages to £d., and a further reduction to £d. is now proposed. Surely that is a sufficient compromise. The duty upon naptha, benzine, benzoline, and gasoline is 50 per cent, higher. My fear is not that these oils will be used to provide motive power for mining and other machinery in remote parts of the country ; the competition I fear is from their use on board steamers.

Mr Conroy - Would the honorable member agree to a duty of 10 per cent. 1

Mr WATKINS - If We could arrive at the ' actual value of the oils, I might not object to an ad valorem duty.

Mr. HENRYWILLIS (Robertson).This matter was pretty fully debated on the last occasion when the item was before us, and statements were made then to which the honorable member for Newcastle has not replied. It was conclusively shown that a duty of -id. per gallon would be prohibitive.

Sir William Lyne - The duty now proposed is only 16£ per cent.

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