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Wednesday, 13 December 1905

Mr SPEAKER - That is not a point of order.

Mr Knox - I want an answer to my question.

Mr SPEAKER - There is no point of order whatever.

Mr Knox - Surely I am entitled to an answer.

Mr SPEAKER - Even, at question time, the honorable member has no right to demand an answer to a question, and certainly at this stage he has no right to do so. There is no point of order.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - If I misunderstood the honorable member's question, owing to the noise on the Opposition, side of the House, and was led to believe that he was unwarrantably assuming I had personal interest, I regret it.

Mr Knox - I assumed nothing of the kind.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Then I am sorry I made any reference to the matter. I now wish to give a little information as to the quantity of machinery that has been imported, especially affecting the harvester question. But it is necessary to remember that in dealing with questions affecting harvesters, strippers, ploughs, harrows, or any other machinery, it is impossible to legislate concerning a particular set of implements. We must pass a Bill if we do the right thing - and the Government is doing that right thing in this Bill - to deal with every case. This measure does not deal specially with harvesters, strippers, or any other particular kind of machinery.

It deals with trusts generally, and it deals with the subject, not only in the interests of manufactures, but also of the labourers and consumers of the community. The great object of a monopolistic trust is to sell its goods at a price which will enable it to crush out competition ; and the moment competition is crushed out, the trust raises its price to the injury of the consumer. The value of the harvesters, imported into this country from the ist January to the 30th November, 1905, was £100,000.

Mr Kelly - What number was exported ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - In the year 1903, the value of harvesters exported was £58,978; in 1904, £29,556; and up to the 31st October, 1905, .£47,113. That statement includes 418 harvesters valued at £30,110. No harvesters were exported during November. I now desire to direct special attention to the number of harvesters manufactured in the Commonwealth. I find that in New South Wales- there are six factories, with an average annual output of ninety-one harvesters; in Victoria there are twelve factories, whose average annual output is 2,125; in Queensland there is one factory, with an average annual outp'ut of fifty ; and in South Australia there are three factories, with an average annual output of 435. Numbers of the manufacturers have reported that, owing to the severe competition of the imported harvesters, the local output has been necessarily restricted. I trust that the House will' give this Bill very earnest consideration. There is no doubt that it will be far-reaching, but I would point out that even more drastic legislation has been enacted in other countries, and with beneficial results. Surely it behoves us in this young Commonwealth to extend to our native industries more projection than we have hitherto afforded them. The protection which they at present enjoy is almost a myth'. This Bill has been introduced to prevent the possibility of serious important trouble occurring during the next nine or twelve months. I commend it to every worker in the community, to every manufacturer, and to every consumer. It was predicted by honorable members opposite that the Commerce Bill would work a great deal of harm to the importer and the consumer. I venture to say that it will do nothing of the kind. Under that measure, I venture to say, the consumer will enjoy better conditions than he did previously. Having briefly explained the origin and effect of the Bill, I trust that the House will agree to pass it without undue delay, so as to permit honorable members to return to their homes before Christmas.

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