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Thursday, 19 November 1936

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Postmaster-General) [9.52 j . - in reply - If the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) are to be regarded as supporting the bill, I can only say : " God save the Government when the honorable senator opposes a bill." His speech was an unrestrained onslaught. It is just as well, therefore, that people should understand the reasons which actuated the honorable senator and his colleagues in giving lip support to this trade treaty. They realize, of course, that their political existence would be threatened if they opposed a measure of this kind. "What would become of the Wyndham Meat Works or the barley trade of South Australia if a satisfactory trade treaty could not be made with Belgium ? If the honorable gentlemen of the Labour party cannot give measures of this kind their whole-hearted support, they should not support them at all.

Reference . has been made to the glass manufacturing industry. The main interest of Belgium in this connexion is in glass for household purposes,, window glass and plate glass. Theconditions under which window glass will be admitted to Australia after the ratification of this agreement will be exactly similar to those which haveoperated since November, 1934. The interests of the Australian Glass Manufacturers Company Limited, for which the Leader of the Opposition exhibited so much concern, are not likely to be threatened as the quota of window glass to be admitted under the new agreement is not being altered, and remains as it has been since 1934. It is significant that the shares in this Australian company for which the Leader of the Opposition expressed so much sympathy have increased from 20s., which is their par value, to 98s. If that position represents ruin, I should like to know what would represent affluence. Plate glass is not manufactured in Australia, so the opportunity presented itself to us to afford Belgium some advantage in this direction. The intermediate tariff rate which is being applied to imports of plate glass from Belgium is that which the Tariff Board recommended as affording sufficient protection for the local industry. The information which I have submitted to honorable senators shows clearly that we need not waste our sympathy upon the Australian glass manufacturing industry. If honorable senators opposite fear that the interests of the workers in that industry are likely to be adversely affected, I suggest that the company does for its workers what certain employers of America recently did for their workers, for its financial position makes such action possible.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.

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