Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 13 July 1906

Mr McWILLIAMS (Franklin) . - I move -

That the following new sub-clause be added : - " (8) In the case of the following agricultural implements : - Ploughs of all kinds over11/2 cwt., tine harrows, disc harrows, grain drills, combined grain, seed and manure drills, land rollers, cultivators, chaff cutters, seed cleaners,, stripper harvesters, and any other implement usually used in agriculture, the Justice shall inquire into and determine the question whetherthe goods are being imported with the effect of benefiting the primary producers of the Commonwealth."

One of the reasons given for the introduction of this Bill was that a combine of agricultural implement makers might be formed with the object of ruthlessly destroying the Australian industry, and afterwards of inordinately increasing the price of their manufactures' for the purpose of fleecing the agriculturists. Personally, I have never entertained the slightest fear of anything of the kind, and there has not been a tittle of evidence adduced in support of it. I regard the plough, the harrow, and the seed drill as the tools of trade of the farmer. If Australia is ever to progress, it must be by attracting a rural population.

Mr Wilks - Are these implements made in Great Britain?

Mr McWILLIAMS - Yes ; they are manufactured there very largely. Australia can only progress by the settlement of the people upon the land. Thatfact is generally admitted, but I notice that any proposal to directly assist the agriculturists usually meets with very little sympathy in this House. We haveonly to look at the enormous improvements which have been made in farming implements during the past decade to recognisethe necessity . which exists for the insertionof the amendment which I have submitted. Ten years ago the position of the agriculturists was very different from what it istoday. Since then all sorts of laboursaving appliances have been introduced. For example, a better crop can be obtained to-day by means of the seed drill, usingonly half the. quantity of seed, than could be procured under the old method of sowing broadcast. Year by year further improvements are being effected. We know that at the present time enormous rewards are being offered in America for laboursaving appliances in connexion with cottonpicking, and if Australia is ever to become a cotton-producing country, it must be either toy the use of very cheap labour - which none of us' wish to see employed - or by the use of the most up-to-date machinery. I believe that the employment of labour-saving appliances would probably solve the problem which is to-day presented by our Northern Teritory bv enabling us to successfully cultivate tropical products. Agricultural machinery is at present in a state of evolution. The machine which was perfect last year may next year be out of date. In the United States and Canada especially, the enormous fortunes acquired by great implement makers are being utilized for the one purpose of steadily improving their machinery. So far as many of our primary producers are concerned,

Ave must recollect that they have to face the markets of the world with their surplus products. Our wheat, butter, and fruit have te compete with countries which employ the most up-to-date machinery. No Tariff can possibly assist them. If our farmers are to increase their export trade, it can only be by the use of the best labour-saving appliances obtainable. I am aware that a clause has already been inserted in the measure which, to some extent, protects the manufacturer. But if we pass the Bill in its present form, it will be within the power of those who are engaged in the manufacture of out-of-date machinery to hold up the importation of the most modern labour-saving appliances, and thus to place our agriculturalists under an enormous disadvantage.

Suggest corrections