Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 8 May 1957

Mr McEWEN (MURRAY, VICTORIA) (Minister for Trade) - Referring to the statement made by Mr. W. S. Kelly, for whose opinions 1 have great respect-

Mr Russell - I did not name him.

Mr McEWEN - The honorable member named him yesterday. Import regulation is an objectionable administrative arrangement. The Government itself concedes that readily. It exists only because of the overriding necessity of preserving the international solvency of the country. The truth of the matter is that, during the period of office of this Government, the Australian citizens have attained such high prosperity, capacity to spend, and standards of living, and the tempo of development both in the public sector and the private sector has been so great, that the end result has been a demand for imports exceeding the earning capacity of our exports. That is the situation, and the Government has devoted itself primarily to policies encouraging the earning of export income - with very considerable success, as the figures show. But in the meantime, and as no more than a stop-gap to be entertained only so long as it is unavoidable, import licensing has been chosen as the device for preserving the international solvency of the country and the value of our currency. It will not be retained for any longer than there is necessity for it. That is the simple explanation of the situation.

I know it has been suggested by the gentleman who is quoted that tariffs should be used as a substitute for import licensing. On that I say that more than half of the total imports into this country are the requirements of Australian manufacturers and that to try to curtail the volume of requirements of Australian manufacturers, by the device of loading them with additional tariffs would seem to be quite contrary to the general public interest of Australia, as well as that of the manufacturing community. I am sure that the Government is right in choosing import licensing, wretched as it is, as the best device in our national circumstances.

Suggest corrections