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Tuesday, 8 June 1926

Senator CRAWFORD (QueenslandHonorary Minister) . - Senator Kingsmill, in common with every other honorable senator, knows that I always approach political subjects in a serious frame of mind, and I have applied myself with all earnestness to every question that has arisen in connexion with this measure. But I think that one would be more than bold - in fact, one would be extremely rash - to say emphatically what was likely to be the industrial position of the world, or even of one's own country, a few years hence. However, I am not amongst those who appear to be greatly alarmed at the increase in the costs of production that has taken place, not only in Australia, but also in many other countries, during recent years. Whilst those costs have increased, there has been a very great improvement in the standard of living. The people have more comforts and pleasures, are living in better houses, and have better furnished homes than obtained some years ago when wages were much lower than they are at the present time. People today are better dressed" and much happier than they formerly were. Therefore, I, for one, cannot see any ground at all for complaining that the costs of production have increased. Concurrently with the increase in those costs, life has become very much more worth living than it was under previous conditions. We have to deal with circumstances as we find them to-day. We learn, from the reports of the Tariff Board, and from other sources of information available, that many of our industries are languishing, and that a great many persons who previously found employment in connexion with them are now unemployed. We have reason to believe that an increase in the degree of protection afforded to those industries would have the effect of placing them on a better footing, and enabling them to give increased employment. I think that we shall be failing in our duty if we are not prepared to apply a remedy that has proved efficacious in the past in order to meet the very unsatisfactory set of conditions that now exist. I have said repeatedly that this tariff has been in operation for nearly twelve months, and it has already had a very beneficial effect upon a number of Australian industries. We are keeping in the country money that was previously sent abroad. Apparently, there are some honorable senators who think that our guiding principle should be to buy always in the cheapest market. If we were to carry that policy to its logical conclusion, we should at last reach the stage at which we should produce nothing ourselves, and should get all we required from countries where the worst industrial conditions prevailed. We should soon find ourselves without the wherewithal to buy, and our last position would be very much worse than the first. I do not wish to labour the subject. It seems to me that we are discussing the general principles of protection instead of the item under discussion.

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