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Wednesday, 14 October 1931
Page: 727


Mr GREGORY (Swan) .- I shall not delay the committee very long, but I feel that I must direct attention to the astounding attitude which the Minister has adopted. He has said that the Government cannot see its way clear to cancel any of the special high duties that are at present being imposed, because the adverse trade balance has not yet been entirely rectified; but instead of asking that they be continued for only a limited period, he is asking that they shall remain in force for an unstipulated time, and in fact, until Parliament chooses to repeal them. If he had asked for a continuance of the duties for a year or for two years, we should have, known where we stood; but he is asking for an unlimited approval of them. Apparently they are to be continued until a new government comes into office which will cancel many of them, and reduce many others. We cannot close our eyes to the fact that in Victoria, the home of protection, there are at present fifteen or twenty different organizations pledged to work for the return of candidates who will support a reversion to the 1908-11 tariff. The members of these organizations recognize that industry is being stifled in Australia. The Minister has said a good deal about the period when heavy imports were being made; but he was not generous enough to admit that this was due principally to enormous overseas borrowing principally by the State Governments - in fact, almost wholly by them. Everybody knows that when this money was borrowed overseas it was sent to Australia in the form of goods. With the cessation of overseas borrowing there has naturally been a reduction of importations. If it were possible to-day to borrow £50,000,000 or £60,000,000 overseas, we should find goods from abroad flooding into this country, in spite of the heavy duties that are in operation. I have, for a very long while, strongly opposed heavy overseas borrowing. I hope that we shall not borrow one penny that we can avoid borrowing. We have boon landed in our present dreadful position because of this overseas borrowing, and the policy for which honorable members opposite stand. We hear members of the Labour party talk in a general way about " our wool and our wheat ", while at the same time they support a policy which doubles, trebles, and in some cases quadruples, the price of the goods which our producers need, forgetting that, all our primary production must be sold at competitive prices in the world's markets. However, when the various items of this schedule are under discussion, I shall enlarge upon these points. We all know very well that the economic commission appointed by the Bruce-Page Government showed clearly that the high duties that we have imposed on clothing and many other commodities have cost the people hundreds of thousands of pounds more than the wages paid in these industries in Australia. The giving of concessions to various secondary industries is having the effect of ^destroying the primary industries from which we obtain our wealth.







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