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Wednesday, 10 May 1939

Mr HOLLOWAY (Melbourne Ports) . - I support the proposed rate of duty. I agree with the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) that some of these companies make excessive profits. But how are the industries of this country to be protected, and our people employed, if on the one hand a duty is refused unless an industry or a workshop becomes efficient, and furnishes proof of its efficiency to the Government, and on the other hand the duty is removed when efficiency has been attained? The honorable member for Swan cannot have it both ways.' For years he has been consistent in his advocacy of low duties, or no duties at all. He always uses the argument that even a low rate of duty like that here proposed should be withheld, because large profits are made. The only alternative he has put forward is .to allow the parts of machinery to be imported, and the people who would otherwise pro duce them in Australia to be unemployed and live on the dole. I suggest that there is another alternative. When the honorable member had the opportunity to do so, he should have had the courage to make the Government retain the tax on the excess profits of these companies. We should encourage the development of manufacturing enterprises, and allow them to make as much profit as they like, but see that excess profits come back to the community. That is a view which the honorable member will never support. It is 30 years since a Labour government first discovered this difficulty. It wished to protect Australian industries, so that Australians might be employed and made efficient, and did so. To-day, everybody recognizes that that was a wise policy, because there is every reason why we should be efficient in our industrial undertakings. That government discovered ' what everybody now knows, namely, that in giving protection and thus helping to develop industries the way was paved for the making of large and excessive profits. Some persons would advocate the dismantling of the whole of these works and reversion to a free-trade basis. The government led by the late Mr.- Andrew Fisher endeavoured to overcome the difficulty in a logical, scientific way. Mr. Fisher suggested that, if necessary, the Constitution should be altered so as to add to the protective side of our tariff system what was called the new protection.

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