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Thursday, 6 September 1906

Senator PEARCE - Yes, and I know the price paid for leaf in Australia also.

Senator Findley - France pays as high a price as do other countries. She buys in the best markets of the world.

Senator Findley - I will stand by my statement.

Senator MILLEN - I am glad that the honorable senator does. It has been rather difficult this afternoon to get any one to stand by statements made on this subject. The quotation which I have made affirms that the 'price of tobacco in European countries and in America is greater than it is in Australia.

Senator Pearce - That is a mistake. I freely admit that that is not so.

Senator MILLEN - If the honorable senator admits that, part of what I had intended to say need net be said.

Senator Pearce - I clearly show lower down that it is a mistake. I show that the price in European countries and America is less.

Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator now admits that the price of tobacco in European countries and America is not greater than in Australia. But that dees not altogether dispose of the deductions which the honorable senator drew from the facts. The quotation which I have given also points out that whilst the wages in Australia are higher, the difference between wages here and elsewhere is not so great as to account for the difference in the selling price of the manufactured article.

Senator Pearce - That clearly shows that I recognised that the price in European countries was lower.

Senator MILLEN - Then we have Senator Findley's interjection that France pays as high a1 price as do other countries. I need not deal with that statement, because Senator Pearce has proved that it is wrong.

Senator Pearce - The honorable senator is dealing with two different things. Under dealing with the price of tobacco, whereas Senator Findley is dealing with the price of leaf.

Senator MILLEN - To simplify matters, let me say that the price referred to in the quotation by Senator Pearce disappears from my argument, as he has admitted that it is a mistake. He says that, while there is a difference in wages, it is not so great as to account for the higher price prevailing in Australia for tobacco than elsewhere. But now we have Senator Findley's statement that France pays as high a price for its tobacco as do other countries, and he adds that she buys in the best market in the world. I propose to .show how far the selected evidence fairly portrays the evidence which was given to the Commission, and is a fair summary of the facts on which its report was founded.

Senator Findley - Is the honorable senator going to prove that the. interjection I made is incorrect ? That is not the way to do so. I shall prove its accuracy by quoting the Tobacco Journal.

Senator MILLEN - I am dealing with the report of the Royal Commission, which has nothing to do with the Tobacco Journal.

Senator Findley - It is the interjection, and not the report of the Commission, which the honorable senator is advancing against me.

Senator MILLEN - All right. With one or two exceptions, to which I shall draw attention, no statement which I am about to make concerning the facts of the case will have any other foundation than the evidence given before the Commission. I shall not go beyond its report except in one or two cases, when I shall state at once the authority upon which I rely. In the meantime, I intend to rely absolutely on the report. The only evidence given on which the Commission ought to have entered up a finding, and which I am going to bring under the notice of the Senate. f was the evidence of Mr. Jacobs in reference to the price paid in the Regie countries.

Senator Pearce - But the Commission never said that the price in Australia was lower than in foreign countries. It merely said that the price has been lower in Australia since the formation of the combine.

Senator MILLEN - I shall come to that point directly.

Senator Pearce - The honorable senator is dealing now with the interjection of Senator Findley, and not with the report of the Commission.

Senator MILLEN - No; I am dealing with the statement of Senator Pearce that, if there is a difference in wages, it is not great enough to account for the difference in the selling price. Although, of course, I do not quote it now in contradiction of the statement which he has admitted is a mistake, still, for the purpose of my argument, I want to quote the actual prices which are paid in the Regie countries and in Australia.

Senator Findley - Who is the honorable senator's authority ?

Senator MILLEN - The Commission.

Senator Findley - Whose evidence ?

Senator MILLEN - That does not mat-,, ter.

Senator Findley - It matters a great deal to me.

Senator Pearce - There are several witnesses who gave evidence on the other side.

Senator MILLEN - I refrained from giving the references to the evidence, as I did not wish to trespass unduly upon the attention of the Senate, but I shall give them now.

The only evidence as to the prices paid in Regie countries and Australia for tobacco leaf was given : -

As regards France and Austria, by Mr. L. P. Jacobs, based upon the Reports for 1902 of the Regie in these countries, the correctness of the translation being certified to by the respective Consuls of these countries in Melbourne -

As to foreign tobacco, France, see p. 277.

As to French tobacco, France, see p. 277.

As to Algerian tobacco, France, see p. 277.

As to foreign leaf, Austria, see p. 276.

As to Austrian leaf, Austria, see p. 276.

By Wm. Cameron, as to proportions of the local and foreign tobacco used in France and the Commonwealth, on p. 249. - Q. 5388.

For Austria these are deduced from evidence on p. 276.

As to the price paid by Australian tobacco manufacturers, evidence was given by Mr. L. P. Jacobs and Wm. Cameron : -

On imported leaf.- Qs. 723 and 5388.

On locally grown leaf. - Qs. 801 and 5388.

The prices given are the average prices paid in France for 1902 ; in Austria for 1901 ; in Australia for 1904.

Senator Pearce - Why didnot the honorable senator quote the evidence of Mr.

Ferguson, the Inspector of Excise, on the point as to the price of leaf and the price of tobacco in those countries?

Senator MILLEN - As to the price paid for raw material ?

Senator Pearce - Yes.

Senator MILLEN - I wish the honorable . senator would direct my attention to his evidence.

Senator Pearce - The point is that the honorable senator has chosen witnesses all from one side.

Senator MILLEN - If the honorable senator will wait he will see that the table which I have taken is that on which he has relied.

Senator Pearce - I quoted from all the witnesses, including Mr. Ferguson.

Senator MILLEN - Whether the honorable senator quarrels with the figures or not, he will see that they show that the average price per lb. paid for local leaf in France was 5½d., in Austria 2½d., and in Australia 10 4-5d., or, roughly, 50 per cent, more than is paid in. France.

Senator Trenwith - Is the table from which these figures are quoted contained in the report of the Commission ?

Senator Findley - The honorable senator is picking the eyes out of the report.

Senator MILLEN - That is my complaint against SenatorPearce. ' These figures are contained in the report, and are, I believe, those on which he has relied.

Senator Pearce - I believe I quoted figures given by Mr. Ferguson.

Senator MILLEN - It is difficult for me to lay my hands on the page at a moment's notice, but I have copiedthem from the table in the report.

Senator Pearce - It is equally difficult for me to follow them.

Senator MILLEN - From his familiar knowledge of the matter, the honorable senator will know whether the figures are correct or not.

Senator Findley - Iknow that the last official return in regard to the tobacco monopoly in France is dated 1902, so that the official figures in regard to the price paid in France are not of much value so far as Mr. Jacobs is concerned.

Senator MILLEN - I wish to quote the price paid in France in 1902.

Senator Findley - That is a long time ago.

Senator MILLEN - What else can I do except take the last official report? The figures given for Austria are for 1901, while the figures for Australia are of more recent date. Senator Findley says that the figures are of no value ; but Senator Pearce did not take that attitude, because he quoted the last official figures as to the revenue. The average price per lb. paid for imported leaf is - in France, 5 9-10d. ; in Austria,11d. ; and in Australia,10½d. ; so that, although, as Senator Findley says, France may buy in the best market in the world, she does not buy the best material there, or she would not be able to get for 5 9-iod. the same quality of leaf as Australia pays10½d. for.

Senator Pearce - On page 4, according to Mr. Ferguson, the cost of material and labour together is - in France. 9.3d. ; in Austria, 9-7d. ; and in Italy10.8d. ; but he does not give the figures for Australia.

Senator MILLEN - It seems to me idle to contend, , as Senator Findley does, that, buying in the same market, France gets for 59-10d. as good an article as Australia gets for10½d.

Senator Findley - France has an advantage in that she does not recognise any middleman in the purchase of the leaf.

Senator MILLEN - Is the combine so simple as to allow its profit to be taken away by a middleman? The very purpose of a combine is to shut out the middleman. I would sooner have the profits which the combine will make out of their purchase than those which the French Government would make. The percentage of foreign leaf used in France is 40.89, in Austria, 38.61, and in Australia 55.86. The percentage of local leaf used in France is 58.83, in Austria 61.25, and in Australia 19. 81. The percentage of imported manufactured tobacco used in France is only . 28, in Austria 0.14, and in Australia 23.45. These figures seem to me to show that Australia is getting tobacco of a better quality than that supplied by the French Government. That I put forward in disposal of Senator Findley's interjection. I want now to show what effect the higher prices have, because Senator Pearce has affirmed that the difference in wages is not sufficiently great to account for the difference in the selling price. If honorable senators will turn to the table on page 275 thev will find thatin France the wages per hour are 3.1d., in Austria1.8d., and in Australia 6.8d. In other words, the Commonwealth is paying a little over twice as much as France, and about five and a half times as much as Austria.

Senator Pearce - That is the statement of Mr. Jacobs.

Senator MILLEN - Where did Mr. Jacobs get the statement from ?

Senator Pearce - From the official document.

Senator MILLEN - I take that as an instance of the misrepresentations I charge against the honorable senator. He told us that this was the statement of Mr. Jacobs, but he well knew that it was taken from an official document, the translation of which was certified to by the Consul. The statement that it was Mr. Jacobs' evidence was, if not intentionally, certainly in effect misleading.

Senator Pearce - I rise to a point of order, as the honorable senator is endeavouring to misrepresent me. What Isay is that the statement which Mr. Jacobs read to the Commission was the statement of the Consul for France.

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