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Wednesday, 14 October 1931
Page: 728

Mr BEASLEY (West Sydney) . - I wish to direct attention to one aspect of this subject, and I frankly admit that I do it in the interests of my electors. It has been said on behalf of the Government that these duties were imposed, not for revenue-producing purposes, but for the purpose of correcting our adverse trade balance. It is admitted that many of the items included in this schedule are not being manufactured in Australia, and that no one has any intention of attempting to manufacture them here. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Forde) has told us that our adverse trade balance has been rectified to a large degree. If that is so, why should it be necessary to continue all of these imposts ? This policy may have been necessary at the time when it was adopted, but is it still necessary?

Mr Forde - It is for the time being. The whole subject can be re-considered when the position has been entirely rectified.

Mr Thompson - The honorable member for West Sydney is worried about the effect that this policy has had on the Sydney wharf labourers.

Mr BEASLEY - I have alreadyadmitted that I am arguing from the point of view of an important section of my constituents. In the interests of these men, I ask the Government to consider carefully whether it is really necessary to continue this policy, at least to the present extent, in view of the fact that our adverse trade balance has been largely rectified.

Mr Forde - lt has not been rectified sufficiently to enable us to pay our interest bill. Even has had that effect, it will still be necessary foi- us to provide £9,000,000 for exchange.

Mr BEASLEY - I do not want to enter upon a discussion of the exchange position, although that, is a subject of very deep interest, particularly in view of the value of the pound sterling in Great Britain to-day. One would be justified in arguing that under present circumstances we are being robbed of about £11,000,000 per annum in consequence of Great Britain's departure from the gold standard.

Mr FORDE (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) - There is a mistaken idea abroad that the banks get £30 out of every £100 that they send overseas. As a matter of fact they get only 10s.

Mr BEASLEY - There can be no doubt whatever that the exchange position is regulated by some central authority on which the banking institutions arc strongly represented.

The question I ask is why the Government cannot see its way clear to remove some of these imposts with the object of assisting the waterside workers in every Australian port. If the present policy could bc modified, these men would be helped, and so would all who are engaged in the transport industry, such as carters and drivers, storemen and packers, and others associated with the handling of goods which come to Australia from other parts of the world. I supported the imposition of these duties originally, although I knew that the policy would adversely affect many of those whom I represent in this Parliament. At that time I hoped that the policy would have the effect of developing secondary industries, which would provide employment for the men who would be displaced in transport industries; but, unfortunately, that hope has not been realized. To-day many men who are ordinarily engaged in secondary industries are receiving State aid by the dole and per medium of the coupon system, and there is no opportunity for waterside workers to transferto occupations such as these. If the Government is not permitted, by the organizations which control the financial situation, to do all that it desires to do to help the unemployed, I ask it to do something to help the waterside workers by modifying these duties, particularly in view of the fact that our adverse trade balance has, to some extent, been corrected. I ask the Minister to give fair and honest consideration to that aspect of the subject.

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