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Wednesday, 13 May 1936

Senator LECKIE (Victoria) .- I regret that Senator Duncan-Hughes was not able to understand my argument, but I still believe that the argument was sound. I was merely trying to show that it is an error to suppose that Australian manufacturers enjoy an advantage of 25 per cent. over British competitors because of the exchange rate. According to the report of the Tariff Board, which the Minister has just read, the " costs above steel " are at a ratio of 1.64 to 1. I placed the ratio at 1.25 to 1, so that the report of the board really supports my contention. There is always apt to be confusion of the use of exchange to regulate trade and the depreciation of the currency. The Australian £1 has been deliberately depreciated by the manipulation of the exchange rate, which no longer acts as a regulator of trade. Steel is the raw material for the manufacture of bolts and nuts, and the fact remains that the Australian manufacturer pays 1.6 for steel as compared with 1 paid by his English competitors. I believe that the present duty will adequately protect the Australian industry, which is every year becoming more efficient, and is obtaining a larger share of the Australian market.

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