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Thursday, 22 March 1928


Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - I had not concluded my remarks when my time expired, but the only observation I now wish to make is that on more than one occasion the Tariff Board has gone out of its way to recommend higher rates of duty than those which have been sought. Rolled iron or steel teams are a case in point. The applicants asked for 88s., 115s., and 130s., but the board recommended 88s., 115s., and 200s. The makers of iron and steel tubes or pipes asked for 35 per cent., 45 per cent., and 55 per cent. The Tariff Board in effect told them that they had asked for too little, and recommended that they be granted duties of 50 per cent., 60 per cent., and 75 per cent. The board may be likened to a mock court; it hears what the applicants have to say, and then tells them that they do not know their own business, and are too modest in their requests. It even puts words into their mouths. If the proposed duties in this case needed anything to damn 'them in the minds of reasonable beings, it would be furnished by the action of the board. It is supposed to be the eyes and the ears of Parliament, but has failed to fulfil that requirement. Do honorable senators intend to endorse such behaviour as that to which I have referred? We would be recreant to our trust, faithless to the people who sent us here, and oblivious to the welfare of this country, if we allowed that conduct to continue. It is part and parcel of the insane policy of raising duties sky high. Has any honorable senator heard of a case where a seeker for a reduction of duty got less than he asked for? I have not. This makes one think that the Tariff Board is failing in its duty. The inevitable result is that primary pursuits will be brought to a state of stagnation. Our primary producers are fortified at present by a combination of fair seasons and good prices ; but, when prices revert to the pre-war level and adverse seasons are experienced, they will not be able to meet the demands made upon them by reason of the high duties which are imposed upon their requirements. The Tariff Board has entirely misconceived its functions. . It has no warrant to tell any applicant that the rate of duty asked for is too low: and this Parliament has no right to endorse such behaviour. We should deal with this question along rational lines. If applicants ask for duties of 35 per cent., 40 per cent., and 50 per cent., we should take them at their word and give them no more. The duties proposed by the schedule are nothing less than outrageous.

On behalf of a disorganized but deserving element in the community, I lodge my protest at such a monstrous proposal, and I shall support Senator Chapman's request.







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