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Wednesday, 17 August 1921


Senator REID (Queensland) . - There can be little doubt that Senator Duncan's request, if carried, would mean the imposition of an extra tax on many of our primary producers. The duties proposed by the Government in connexion with this sub-item are amongst the heaviest to be found in the Tariff.


Senator de Largie - No such duties can be found in any other 'Tariff in the world.


Senator REID - If the Committee ap proves of the duties proposed by the Government, those concerned in the industry will have no reason to complain.


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - These duties are not as heavy as the duty on bananas.


Senator REID - I am not discussing bananas at present.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am not certain that Senator Thomas supported the duty on bananas.


Senator REID - I do not think that he did. Senator Lynch emphasized very strongly the fact that our people are drifting into the large cities to a very great extent. That is undeniable, but I. should like to remind the honorable senator that so far as agriculture in Australia is concerned it is confined to a more or less limited fringe along , our coast. In Canada the conditions are otherwise. Because of the fall of snow and the climatic conditions generally, interior districts of Canada have the benefit of a sufficient rainfall throughout the year. That cannot be said of Australia. One reason why I am in favour of a Tariff to build up our secondary industries is that they may serveto attract population to this. country, and until. we have a much larger population than we have now we cannot expect that Australia will be developed as it should be.


Senator Duncan - The big cities afford the best markets for the primary producers.


Senator REID - As one who knows something of the interior of Australia, I regard its settlement and development as one of the most gigantic problems with which we have to deal. Until we have a very much larger population than we have at present we shall not be in a position to undertake the work of water conservation and irrigation in the interior of Australia, which must be carried out before it can be closely settled.' Until we have done so we can only expect that it will be occupied in huge areas for the depasturing of stock. I am not anxious that wealthy industrial Combines, should be established here. I do not regard the production of wealth as the most important thing. In my opinion the greater the variety of industries we have the better it will be for our people.


Senator Wilson - Will they not represent wealth?


Senator REID - They may; but I am not particularly anxious for the building up of industries from which a few people may derive a great deal of wealth. I believe that it is better to have our population engaged in a variety of industries which will enable a great many people to make a moderate living, and will offer inducements to other people to come here, so that in time we may be in a position to supply our own needs, and also to enter into competition with industries in other parts of the world.


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - If it were not for the primary producers the people in the cities could not live.


Senator REID - If it were not for the men in our towns engaged in the secondary industries, the man on the land could not live.


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Nonsense! We are exporters of all our primary products.


Senator REID - I do not object to Senator Guthrie's defence of the primary producers; but if all our people were primary producers it would not be good for the country. We must have secondary industries to supply the tools pf trade required by our primary producers, and it is better for them that we should have a large population to con sume their products. Many of the secondary industries which have been built up by Protection have been of very great benefit to our primary producers. It is true that Protection may hamper more or less some branches of primary production, but we have to consider the interests of Australia as a whole. We must offer inducements to a greater population to come here, and the primary producers must bear their share of our burdens. A good, deal has been said about consideration for our Allies and about preference to Great Britain. I take second place to no one in Australia in my anxiety to preserve the connexion between ourselves and the Old Country, but our first duty is to Australia. We have no right to do anything which would injure Australia in order to benefit the Old Country or our Allies. ' The first duty of every father is to look after his family, and this nation should look after its own industries before it talks of being generous to other people. I would not go out of my way to injure the Old Country; but the first consideration with me is the protection of Australian industries in the interests of the young people who are growing up amongst us, and in order to attract a larger population to our shores. I have said that the most gigantic problem with which we have to deal is the settlement of people on the millions of acres of comparatively unoccupied territory in Australia inside the coastal fringe. The introduction of population and the reduction of our debt will enable us to enter upon schemes for the development of the interior of this great continent. Some honorable senators have been pessimistic about the effect of the imposition of Customs duties; but I have heard their jeremiads so often that I do not now take much notice of them.


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Talking about population, I venture to say that families in the country districts are larger than families in the cities.


Senator REID - That may be, but it may surprise honorable senators to know that my experience has convinced me that the general health of families in the cities is better than that of families in the country.


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - That is because the people in the cities have so many advantages, and doctors are always at hand.


Senator REID - My personal experience is that because of the improved sanitary conditions, those engaged in the secondary industries that are being built up in our cities are, on the whole, healthier than people engaged in rural occupations.


Senator Bolton - That has not been the experience in Great Britain, at all events. Kitchener's Army was a refutation of that statement.


Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) -Brock man. - And so was the Australian Army.


Senator REID - I have no official figures dealing with the point raised by the honorable senator. I can only draw conclusions from my own observations in our agricultural areas in the back country of the Commonwealth. I have come into contact with country people in all the States, and I say that, on the whole, those living in our cities are healthier.


Senator Gardiner - The average life of a farmer is fifty-six years, while the average life of a business man is thirtysix years. These are official figures.


Senator REID - As I have said, I speak from personal observation, and this is the conclusion I have arrived at.


Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) -brockman. - The honorable senator lacks observation, apparently.


Senator REID - Perhaps I do; but if the honorable senator will go into the average country storekeeper's premises he will find that quite a large trade is done in all kinds of patent medicines. Most of these articles are sold in country districts.


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - That is because doctors are not so readily available.


Senator REID - By building up our secondary industries under proper sanitary conditions and by encouraging the growth of population we shall be developing this country on sound lines. Our important secondary industries require protection to the same extent as do our wool-growers.


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - The wool-growers do not want protection, and have never asked for it.


Senator REID - Nevertheless, in respect of some items connected with that industry Senator Guthrie lashed himself into a fury because he did not get all he wanted.


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Not at all. That statement is quite untrue.







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