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Tuesday, 10 July 1906

Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume) (Minister dE Trade and Customs) . - I am sorry that so much heat has been imported into this debate, and chiefly at the instigation of the honorable member for Corinella, who has misrepresented me very grossly. He stated that I had promised to do certain things, and that I had not done them. I did not make any such promise as the honorable member has said.

Mr McCay - I read from Hansard.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I have Hansard before me. There is more than one copv of Hansard, fortunate! v.

Mr McCay - Do thev differ ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - No; except the honorable member alters his speeches ; and then they may. When the honorable member was speaking on the 20th June, according to Hansard, page 469, he said, referring to myself -

I would ask him whether there are any cases in his cognisance in which dumping has taken place to the substantial detriment of Australian industries.

I said -

I think so, most certainly.

Then the honorable member asked me whether I knew of any special cases. After my interjection, he said -

That is information ' which honorable members are entitled to have in their possession. If the evil be pressing we are justified in taking more strenuous steps, and incurring more risks to cope with it than it would be the case if it were not more urgent and pressing. Would the Minister be good enough to tell the House in what industries his experience leads him to suppose that dumping of the kind to which he objects is taking place?

To that I said-

I shall reply to that question at the close of the debate'?

I did not tell the honorable member that I was going to give specific cases. Then the honorable member went on -

I presume that he is cognisant of cases, though he did not tell us what they were when he moved the second reading of the Bill.

I replied that I had no.t done so because, if I had, I should' not have anything to say subsequently. Further on the honorable member said -

It was his duty in introducing the Bill to give us all the information in his possession. I am just as earnest as he is in my desire to support a fair protectionist policy in this country, and I resent being placed at a disadvantage by his refusal to give information which it is his duty to supply.

I replied -

I am very glad to hear that the honorable member is a protectionist.

I did not know it before.

Mr McCay - That is incorrect. The honorable gentleman did know it before.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I did not know it, and I do not think it.

Mr McCay - Was the Minister in the House during the Tariff debates in 1901-2?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The honorable member must allow me to have my own opinion. I have quoted what I said. There was no definite promise to give specific instances. That is what the honorable member tried to pin me down to. It was vetly unfair of him ; but I am not going to be bullied or dictated to by him. When I replied on the whole debate, the honorable member, I suppose, was at home in bed. The hour was late. When I spoke there were some interjections, as the report shows : -

Mr King O'malley - Take a vote ! Mr. Pace. - The Minister is " stone-walling " his own Bill."

I said that I had not had time to deal generally - I 'did not say specifically - with this question on the second reading, in consequence of the debate being so inordinately extended. I never made any definite promise, such as. has been imputed to me. That is my reply to the remark of the honorable member for Corinella in that regard. I also referred to the matter on going into Committee. I said, as to the dumping provisions : -

I do not desire, and I do not intend at present,, to say anything with reference to that part of the measure, but shall leave any explanation I may have to make at a later stage.

I had intended to make a statement at that time, but it was objected to on the ground that it would create a general discussion.

Mr Skene - Let us have the explanation now.

Sir WILLIAM' LYNE - I am going to justify myself. I am not going to have words put into my mouth1, or intentions put into my mind, that were never there. If the honorable member for Corinella had been doing his duty here he would have known that in my second-reading speech I gave specific cases. For instance, on page 254 of Hansard, he will find a list - I do not wish to go into the matter a second time - showing goods that are sent here from the United States of America, and are purchased in that country at an average of less than, the price of the same articles in the American market, the price obtained here being sometimes one-third and sometimes one-half of that obtained there.

Mr Lonsdale - Where did the honorable member get the information from ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The honorable member will find the information in the report of_the inspector, instructed by the late Mr. Seddon.

Mr Liddell - Were the goods purchased in Australia ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - They are purchased in the United States for sale in Australia - purchased at a price which, in some cases, was only half of the selling price of the same articles in the United States. I will not go through the list again ; I have referred to the page in Hansard so that honorable members :an look it up. I gave that information so that honorable members might see where dumping was taking place.

Mr Lonsdale - How much dumping ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - A great deal. How is it possible for me to state exactly and precisely the amount of dumping? I am going to refer to another thing that is not exactly dumping, but is a system carried on by 'British firms at the present time with which we ought to deal. I have not traced it elsewhere, although I think it is also taking place on the part of German firms. We are getting a large quantity of Japanese manufactures here which are supposed to be of English and German make.

Mr Lonsdale - What are they?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I have here a sample which I will exhibit directly. I am not going to mention the names of the firms, but I have information showing that there is a firm in Great Britain that is having goods made in Japan and sent out here at a very low price.

Mr Bamford - Quite likely

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - It is so. The price of the goods is below what they can be produced for im this country

Mr Cameron - Are not the manufacturers compelled to mark the goods " Made in Japan " ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Not if they are made for sale in Australia; they are compelled so to mark them if for sale in Great Britain.

Mr Robinson - Will not the Commerce Act cover such cases?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I hope that it will. I am going to make the Commerce Act deal with them, if I can. I am giving honorable members facts which have Come before me in connexion with this question. I also wish to reply to the statements of the honorable member for Bendigo. I have asked the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs to give me any information he could as to this dumping practice. The following is his memorandum to me upon the subject: -

It is a well-established practice, especially with American manufacturers, to send goods to Australia in order to sell at a price which is much less than that charged in the Home markets. This is especially the case in regard to manufacturers of certain classes of machinery (apart from harvesters), and in consequence of this practice it was that the Canadian Parliament passed its anti-dumping legislation. Sewing machines, typewriting machines, and oil, are cases where it is alleged on good authority this practice exists. It is evidence and well known that this practice largely prevails, and unless prevented it is sure to continue, inasmuch as it is important to manufacturers to get rid of their surplus stock without depreciating local sates ; nails also, and many similar classes of goods.

The representatives of two firms came to me in Sydney the other day, and told me that dumping was going on to such an extent in connexion with nails as to crush out the local industry. They have given me particulars showing that it is possible to get nails delivered in Sydney cheaper than we can get the imported metal from which to make them. This practice is crushing out nail-making in Australia.

Mr Henry Willis - What kind of nails?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I cannot tell the honorable member exactly what kind of nails. I have a memorandum embodying the information given to me by these firms, though I cannot find it amongst my papers just now. At the present time steel from which these nails are made is being sold in Sydney at a higher price than that for which the manufactured nails are being sent from Germany.

Mr Henry Willis - Where do they make them in Germany ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I know where they are made in Australia. Has not the honorable member seen the correspondence that has taken place, and' the evidence given in connexion with, I think, Holdsworth, Macpherson and Company ? It is all very well for the honorable member to laugh. Really he must be oblivious to everything that is going on. He knows nothing about the Tariff business or anything else, so that it is of no use for him to talk on the subject. If we were to manufacture all the nails that we require, it will be seen from the list of imports that' it would give employment to a very large number of men. But that cannot be done while the dumping process is continued.

Mr Cameron - And the consumer benefits all the time.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I do not expect to convince a free-trader, and I never try to do so.

Mr Lonsdale - The Minister does not believe that dumping injures us.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I believe that it injures vis seriously. If honorable members will go into Pitt-street or Castlereaghstreet, in Sydney, particularly Pittstreet, they will find a large number of indent agents who have been sent 'here from all parts of the world - from Germany, to a large extent, and from the United States. There are not many sent from Great Britain I believe. These men hire £t boy to look after one room which is used as an office. They bring out the goods at the cheap rates which t have quoted, and sometimes at one-half of the price charged in the' country of production, and thereby seriously injure those firms which have provided all the machinery required to manufacture the articles in Australia. The indent agents dump the .goods on to wharfs in Sydney Harbor, and are themselves of no good to this country as consumers, having only one room and an office boy. Whilst they are dumping down these imports they are seriously injuring legitimate traders and manufacturers to a large extent, and also reducing the rates of wages. Many things besides those I have mentioned are dumped here. If my honorable friends desire to do any good for our people I am quite satisfied that this Bill will have a very wholesome effect.

Mr Cameron - The protectionists will do the same thing as soon as they have overtaken the demand; they will export to England.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - As regards any attempt to reduce wages or to sweat in Australia, we can legislate when the emergency arises, but we cannot deal with the question of wages in the United States or elsewhere.

Mr Fowler - If I remember correctly imported nails are sold, almost invariably, at a higher price than locallymanufactured nails.

Mr Johnson - Because they are better.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Imported nails better than ours !

Mr Fowler - I do not say that Australian nails are better, but I assert that almost invariably they are sold at a higher price.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - It is no use to try to wriggle over this question, because I am giving my honorable friend a home thrust which he cannot answer. If honorable members on the other side care to keep an open mind they will find that this is only one direction in which dumping is going on. I look upon dumping in somewhat a "different light from ' that stated the other night by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and tonight by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. It does not matter under what set of circumstances we get a cheap article here which is going to injure our factories, and reduce the rate of wages, and which is selling at a price lower than that at which it should be sold. If it is proved that it is going to be injurious to our people, that is dumping. Whether the importers get a profit upon the price which they paid or not, to my mind, it does not matter, as far as the injury is concerned. If we are to have Australia for the Australians to a greater extent than we have now, we must see that they are protected against the system which I have been describing.

Mr Johnson - Are we not to consider the consumer at all ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The honorable member is always talking about the consumer, but the latter gets cheaper articles here when we have local competition.

Mr Johnson - Then, where is the necessity for this legislation ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - That I have proved times without number. If we can keep the production to our own people and reserve the home market to ourselves, the tendency is not to increase the cost of the article, but to decrease the cost, if it is a legitimate industry.

Mr Johnson - The honorable member has been complaining of the cheapness. Sir WILLIAM LYNE.- I am complaining of the nastiness.

Mr Johnson - Cheapness is what the honorable member has complained of before.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The honorable and learned member for Bendigo has said' that the Bill will not meet the case, but I must differ from hip. If he will look at paragraph e of clause 14, he will see a provision to meet cases of the kind -

If the imported goods are being sold in "Australia at a price which is less than gives the person importing or selling them a fair profit upon their fair foreign market value, or their cost of production, together with all charges after shipment from the place whence the goods arc exported directly to Australia (including Customs duty).

As regards the honorable and learned member's statement that we should wait for the report of the Tariff Commission, there again, I must differ from him. I feel sure that the honorable and learned member and his compeers on that Commission have done an ardent and' useful work, and will give us a good deal of information, but it must not be forgotten by him and others that perhaps the Department of Trade and Customs has as much information as they can get.

Mr Kelly - Why does not the Minister give that information to the Committee? '

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I was against the appointment of the Tariff Commission, because I maintain that in the Department of Trade and Customs there is all the information which is required for dealing with the Tariff. The information which has come from the Tariff Commission, will, no doubt, be very useful, but it does not follow that we should wait until it is received before we decide what to do in a case of this kind. As regards the statement that the reports of the Tariff Commission to hand should be dealt with, I have only to say that they will be dealt with as soon as possible. I do not look upon the reports relating to wines and spirits as being very urgent. I wish to see reports upon questions of far more importance, having regard to the general good of the public, than the question of the Customs and Excise duties on wines and spirits. The report on the latter subjects is important, but it is not as important as the reports of the Commission on other subjects are likely to be. There are other forms of dumping which' I need not enumerate. In the Department, we know well that goods are dumped here every year, not to the extent of a few pounds' worth, but to the extent of tens of thousands of pounds' worth". For instance, there is as much dumping in con«nexion with wearing apparel as there is in connexion with anything else. I refer to the sales of surplus stock, as well as possibly to the sales of insolvent stock.

Mr Johnson - And who gets the benefit of the cheapness of the article? The public !

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - If foreign manufacturers are allowed to send in their goods and destroy our factories, and we are ever going to attempt to class ourselves as an increasing and improving country-

Mr Johnson - It is always the Victorian manufacturer whom the honorable member is thinking about.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Once the competition here is destroyed we shall' not have cheap articles coming in, because it is not inherent in human nature for a man to pay a low price for a catch line in some other part of the world and bring it here without making the most of the transaction. If the competing industries here be destroyed the consumer will have to pay a great deal more than he can possibly have to pav at the present time. Small1 as the present protection is, it keeps our industries going to a certain point, and that saves the public from the higher prices .which would otherwise be charged by those who import cheaply bought stuff.

Mr Johnson - A wonderful argument !

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - At any rate, it is a very true argument. , I refer to wearing apparel, clothes., tweeds, and various other articles which have been dumped in exactly the same way in Canada.

Mr Mcwilliams - Has the Minister any information as to agricultural implements having been dumped here?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Yes, I have full information. I quoted just now from what the Comptroller-General wrote to me this afternoon in reference to the manufactured implements of the United States of America and Canada. There has been a lot of dumping in connexion with the harvester. A combination came here, and the difference between the dumping price and the ordinary selling price was brought up to such an extraordinary amount that until I dealt with the question the farmers had paid a third more than they should have paid for their harvester.

Mr Lonsdale - The Minister's friends arc in that combine.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The honorable member is not fair in using the expression " my friends," because I scarcely know the gentlemen.

Mr Lonsdale - The Minister brought in this Bill for them.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I hope that the honorable member will try to be a little fair. Whether it concerns Mr. McKay, Mr. Morrow, or any one else, an internal combination should be dealt with in just the same wav as an external combination. Of course, . I want every man to be my friend. I would prefer not to have an enemv. At the same time, this Bill is not brought in for my friends, in the sense in which the honorable member suggested.

Mr Mcwilliams - Outside the harvester, are agricultural implements sold under their value in any of the States?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Yes, a good many - for instance, ploughs, harrows, and other farming implements sometimes. At one time there was a fight on here about reapers, binders, and strippers. After the first combination was burst up, wherever there was a manufacturer here there was an attempt by the International Harvester Company more than any one else to destroy him. An honorable member has re ferred to the firm of Massey-Harris. I wish that the firm would only do what they threatened to do. They thought they would appal me by telling me that if I went on as I was doing they would do a dreadful thing. I asked what it was> that they intended to do, and when they said, "We shall start our factory here," I replied, " I wish to God you would do it at once, and if I could possibly make you do it I would." I do not care whether it is the firm of Massey-Harris or any one else. If they would carry on a factory in a legitimate way, and pay the local' scale of wages, I would hail with delight the firm of Massey-Harris, especially asthey come from Canada. There isno direct attempt here to injure any oneconnected with any portion of the British Empire, but we have to see that Australia - a vast and rich continent, possessing somuch raw material - shall not remain in the slough in which she is, but shall prosper much more rapidly than she has done in production and manufacture. That is the main object of the Bill. I want honorable members, who imagine that dreadful things are going to happen, to understand that the public weal has always to be considered before anything dan take place under the Bill. It cannot be hurled at me that I am going to decide these important questions when, under the proposed amendment, they are to be decided bv a Justice of the High Court. I think that that is the best method that we can adopt. The only other way would be to appoint a Board, either for each case, or permanently. But it would be very Hard to constitute a permanent Board capable of dealing satisfactorily with the great variety of subjects which might come before it, while, if a Board were appointed to deal with each particular case as it arose, there would be no end to the appointments. I ask honorable members to consider the difficulty of obtaining a tribunal which could be depended upon to give satisfaction. The only method which we have been able to devise is the appointment of a Judge to do the work. He will have full power to decide all the cases referred to him ; but if it is represented that he has misunderstood a case, or has imposed penalties which are too heavy, the Executive of the day may vary his judgment, or reduce his award, although they may not raise it.

Mr Liddell - The Executive is to upset the Judge's award?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The action taken by the Executive would be somewhat analogous to the exercise of the prerogative of mercy.

Mr Robinson - Why does not the Minister leave these matters to Parliament instead of taking them into his own hands? iMr. Isaacs. - If that arrangement were anade, there would be no means of modifying a decision when Parliament was not sitting.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - It would be impossible, moreover, to bring every matter before Parliament. Honorable members must attempt to deal practically with questions of this kind. A lot of matters come before me with which I should like Parliament to deal; but it is practically impossible to ask for the opinion of honorable members upon them, and I do not shirk the responsibility of dealing with them myself.

Mr Kelly - How the Minister's supporters trust him ! At this moment there Is not one of them present-

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - It is pleasing to me that they do trust me. In an article giving the Canadian practice, the following passage occurs : -

Mr. Fielding,the Minister of Finance, in his Tecently delivered Budget speech, stated that_ it -was intended to prevent the sale of commodities imported into Canada at a lower price than at which they are sold in the country of production. The " dumping clause," as it is termed, inserted into the Tariff Amendment Bill, provides that whenever it shall be made to appear 1o the satisfaction of the Canadian Customs authorities that the export price, or the actual selling price to the importer in Canada, of any imported dutiable article of a class or kind made or produced there, is less than the fair market value thereof, such article shall, in addition to the duty otherwise established, be subject to a special duty equal to the difference between the fair market value and the selling price.

What has taken place in the past in Canada in regard to dumping is taking place here. now. I hold in my hand a sample of an article which is now being sent to Sydney, marked as though manufactured in Berlin, whereas it is really made in Japan.

Mr Johnson - What is it?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - A high-class soap. It is being imported, I believe, through a German company. No doubt the public think that it is made in Germany, whereas it is really made by the cheap labour of Japan, which thus comes into competition with those engaged in the soap industry in Australia. A British firm, too, is entering into a large contract for the supply of certain articles which are being made in Japan, but sent here as if made in Great Britain.

Mr McCay - The Bill does not touch these cases.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - It will do so. If goods are sold here at a price injurious to the wage-earners of this country, and to an industry in which they are employed, at a price lower than that at which they can be produced in the country from which they are supposed to have been sent, their importation may be prohibited. I do not think that I have omitted to touch upon any point upon which honorable members desire information. I refer them again to the list of imports which I gave the other day, affecting £7,140,000 worth of machinery.

Mr Kelly - Do those figures cover dumped goods entirely? Sir WILLIAM LYNE. - No. I ask the honorable member to be fair, and to refer to the quotation in my second-reading speech as to the prices of a great many of the goods which come from the United States.

Mr Kelly - The honorable member spoke of goods imported into New Zealand, not of goods imported into Australia.

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