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Wednesday, 14 October 1931
Page: 741

Mr FROST (FRANKLIN, TASMANIA) - The honorable member would never be satisfied with any measure of protection for secondary industries.

Mr GREGORY - I represent a great number of people who have shown sufficient courage to go into our outback country to develop new areas, and in that way build up the wealth of Australia. These people are doing something to provide employment for the workers of this country, and yet the tariff policy of this Government is absolutely destroying what chance they might have of being successful.

Mr Gibbons - Is it not a fact that agricultural machinery is cheaper to-day than it was prior to the imposition of " these special duties ?

Mr GREGORY - Any person with common sense will admit that in 1920 production costs all over the world were abnormally high. But I invite the honorable member to consider the cost of agricultural machinery in 1913 and compare it with present-day costs. In Germany manufacturing costs are now lower than in pre-war days, and the cable news of yesterday reported that costs in Great Britain had dropped to 98 per cent, in comparison with 1913 figures. In protesting against these excessive duties I have in mind particularly the hardship which they inflict upon the poorer sections of the community. Surely no one will attempt to justify the trebling of the duties on clothing. In addition to the high rates obtaining prior to the imposition of these special duties there is a natural protection of 30 per cent, representing the adverse exchange. We were told, when these duties were brought down, that their special purpose was to correct the adverse trade balance.

Mr Lewis - And that is being done.

Mr GREGORY - But at what cost? Unemployment is now widespread throughout the Commonwealth.

Mr Lewis - Commodities affected by these special duties are cheaper now than before the duties were imposed.

Mr GREGORY - But wages in industry are lower, and they are likely to recede still further, because, unfortunately, there are so few buyers and so many people are being thrown out of employment in a number of industries in order to provide special conditions for a favoured few. No one can persuade me that the special duties on matches are justified. Their only effect has been to increase greatly the cost of matches in every household. This may be a small item, but it is one of hundreds to be found throughout the tariff, in which there have been extraordinary increases. The Government is losing well over £100,000 a year in customs revenue on matches alone, merely to give a concession to a few firms. Can any honorable member tell me how many Swedes are associated with the match industry in Australia? A somewhat similar position developed in connexion with the duties on galvanized iron. Because £500,000 of the "shares in Lysaght Limited, Newcastle, is held by John Lysaght, Bristol, as payment for the use of trade marks, brands and processes, the Minister was persuaded that the duties on galvanized iron should be high enough tq ensure to that concern an adequate dividend on the excess capital, and, unfortunately, honorable members supporting the Government appear to be only too anxious to look after the interests of these manufacturing concerns, so many of which are exploiting the .people. I hope, however, that the committee will realize that the Government has already gone too far with its protectionist policy, and that in this matter it will clip the wings of the Ministry by voting for my amendment.

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