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Thursday, 18 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I think that in respect of this item the Government have gone a long way out of their road to impose an additional burden on the already burdened land-owners of the Commonwealth. Wire netting and barbed wire are used only by the people on the land. In the Age of Saturday last there appeared an advertisement, in which quotations for barbed wire were given, and a glance at it reveals the remarkable fact that prices are f dur times as high as they were before the war. Here are the figures : - Gliddon barbed wire, galvanized, in 100-lb. coils, 430 yards to the coil, 36s. per coil; Iowa barbed wire, galvanized, 12 gauge, 440 yards to the cwt., 39s. per cwt.; 13 gauge, 560 yards to the cwt., 44s. per cwt.; 14 gauge, 700 yards to the cwt., 45s. per cwt.; Waukegan barbed wire, galvanized, 14 gauge, 820 yards to the cwt., 50s. per cwt. I venture to say the price of the last-named wire before the war was not more than 12s. 6*d. per cwt. Why should we impose this extra burden on our primary producers who, in addition to combating various pests, have to face increased costs, and to compete in the markets of the world? We cannot protect their wheat, wool, meat, or fruit, because these are sold in the world's markets, yet in respect of barbed wire, which they alone use, we are asked to impose a duty of 68s. per ton under the British preferential Tariff, while under the general Tariff the duty is 105s. per ton. I do not know whether Senator Lynch intends to move a request for a reduction-

Senator Lynch - I do.

Senator GARDINER - Then I shall leave it to the honorable senator who, as a land-owner with actual experience of the necessity for allowing barbed wire to come in at the lowest rate, is- entitled to submit such a request. This is a direct tax upon the primary producers. I know that we are manufacturing barbed wire in Australia, but it cannot be claimed that the general public is assisting in the maintenance of the industry. If the Government want to maintain industries at the cost of the people, it would be the lesser evil to provide, in this case, for a bounty rather than a duty. If that were done the whole of the community, instead of the primary producers alone, would have to pay for the maintenance of the industry. If we are to continue the practice of calling upon people to put their hands into their pockets in order to develop industries here, then the' sooner we adopt a system under which the whole community, instead of a section of it, will be called upon to bear the cost, the better for all concerned. Every one admits that the lot of the primary producer is harder than that of the manufacturer. The manufacturer has a relatively easy time.

He has to work only five days a week, whereas the dairy farmer has to work six and seven days a week, his only good fortune being that the week does not consist of eight or nine days. Yet he is to be taxed on all the fencing material he requires. I do not complain of the Minister's regard for secondary industries, because it was on the policy of their encouragement that he was elected to Parliament.

Senator Wilson - The Minister is living up to that policy.

Senator GARDINER - I am glad the Minister is doing so; but, at the same time, it is my duty to point out that in this instance, none but the land-owners and those employed on the land are called upon to bear the taxation. There is not a farm or grazing property in Australia that has not heretofore been compelled to use barbed wire, and compelled to use it again ; and now the price is practically four times what it was seven years ago. That being so, there is. no need for the additional duty.

Senator Russell - More barbed wire comes from America than from all the other countries put together.

Senator GARDINER - America is the place where barbed wire was invented, and, naturally, in that country the machinery for making it has been perfected, and from it more material can be exported than from elsewhere. That, however, is no reason why those on the land should be compelled to bear the burden of all this taxation. I would not mind so much if there were a sort of rebate system, under which the purchaser of every ton or cwt. had an interest in the industry in proportion to his purchases.

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