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Wednesday, 3 May 1961

Mr PETERS (Scullin) .-! have been reading this bill carefully, Mr. Speaker, and I find many admirable provisions in it. I cannot find, however, how action is to be initiated to discover whether dumping is being practised. We find frequently phrases such as, " If the Minister is satisfied, he may . . .", " the Minister may . . .", " if the Minister is satisfied after inquiry ... he may . . .". But who initiates the investigation to determine whether goods are being sold in other countries, for example in England, at prices higher than those being charged in Australia, and whether, in fact, the Australian price is less than the cost of production? There was a case in point in my own electorate recently. It concerned certain pieces of electrical equipment known as ballasts which were being produced in Victoria for 15s. 6d. each. Similar articles were being sold in England at 9s. 6d. each to people who put them on the Australian market. They were, sold in England to retailers at a price higher than the price for which they were sold by Australian retailers. They were placed on the Australian market at such a price that they were below the Australian cost of production; but how could that be proved? Who was the person who initiated the investigation? Would the Tariff Board take action in England to find out whether there was dumping? Would the Minister take action? He might do so in some cases, but I do not think the bill is explicit enough. It does not show exactly how an investigation can be initiated to convince the Tariff Board or the Minister that dumping is occurring.

After all, a private employer, particularly if he is starting a small business, cannot enter into serious investigations in England to discover costs of production there in comparison with the price at which the goods are being placed on the Australian market. Such a procedure is too costly and difficult. All the manufacturer can do is to compare the market price of the goods with the price at which he can produce similar goods. If he can present a prima facie case that there appears to be dumping, the Minister should take the necessary steps immediately to have an investigation carried out overseas to determine whether in reality dumping is taking place.

The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) spoke about planned economies. Hitler had a planned economy which operated on the basis of barter. Czechoslovakia has a planned economy and it places great quantities of boots on the Australian market. But how are we to determine when dumping begins? Actually, it is almost impossible.

Mr Osborne - It will be made easier under the provisions of the bill. That is one of the purposes of the bill.

Mr PETERS - I do not know how it will operate or how the Government proposes to determine when goods from China are being dumped in Australia in return for the wheat we are going to send to that country. Under the planned economy of China, goods can be sold at less than the cost of production. There is no question in that country of profit. If the Chinese have a surplus, the goods go overseas and they get as much as they can for them. That might be considerably less than the cost of production in the countries where they offer the goods for sale. But it will not be possible to bring the Chinese under this legislation. Much more will be needed to protect Australian industry.

Japan encourages its exporters by legislation. The export income of Japanese merchants is subject to a lower rate of taxation than is the income raised on the home market by the sale of similar goods. Clause 9 of the bill provides that the Minister may take act/on if he is satisfied -

That a subsidy, bounty, reduction or remission of freight or other financial assistance has been or is being paid or granted directly or indirectly upon the production, manufacture, carriage or export of those goods.

But how is the Minister going to determine the effect of the taxation laws of Japan on the Japanese export industry? Textiles and other commodities from Japan that are sold in Australia are produced under labour conditions infinitely worse than ours. The workers get lower wages and work longer hours. But the manufacturers are also subsidized in a variety of ways. They are subsidized by income tax concessions and by assistance from Japanese Government sources with freights. The Government can introduce this anti-dumping legislation, but it is a different matter to implement it.

It is not so easy to determine just when goods coming from other countries are detrimental to Australian industries, and, after all, that should be the main consideration. If imported goods are destroying Australian industries and putting Australian workers out of employment, they should not be allowed into the country. An embargo should be placed oh them. If this Government had placed an embargo years ago on goods similar to those that were being made and could be made in Australia, we would not be in the sad position we are in to-day. We have boot factories in Australia that can supply all our footwear requirements. We have knitting mills with machinery adequate to supply every requirement of the people of Australia for knitwear. That applies also to many textiles. We have many factories which manufacture piece goods into shirts, blouses and clothing of that description, yet we find millions of pounds worth of these goods coming into Australian and putting Australians out of work.

I have said previously that the biggest emporium in Melbourne has thousands of imported Italian suits of clothes for sale. Is that in the best interests of the people of Australia and the immigrants who have come here to seek employment? These goods from Italy are being imported in great quantities. To me, that is dumping. Dumping is the destruction of the industries and the employment of the Australian people by goods coming from other countries, and we should prevent such importations. We should prevent Japanese goods from coming to Australia when they are subsidized by tax concessions and in other ways.

I do not think that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has said when conducting negotiations with the Japanese: " What exactly are the methods by which you seek to exploit the markets of other countries? Do you give tax concessions and subsidize shipping freights? Do you give bonuses? If you do, we want to know so that we can see that these methods are not used to place goods on the Australian market to the disadvantage of our own manufactures." It is one thing to pass this legislation. It is a different proposition to implement the legislation and initiate actions that will show that dumping exists.

The British Board of Trade used to tell the manufacturers of England that they could have a certain quota of goods which they would be permitted to sell at a certain price, but that a certain percentage had to be sold overseas. The price of the goods was so fixed that the manufacturers were enabled to sell their goods overseas for considerably less than the price at which they sold them on the English market. Those conditions are not peculiar to England. This has been done in other industrialized countries which seek to create for their own people better conditions than are enjoyed by the nations to which the goods are exported.

I suggest that the Government should examine all these things. I suggest that it should have a kind of committee continually in operation to examine the general method whereby goods are shipped from other capitalist countries. Bounties ar.d remissions of duty should be recorded. The marketing methods of countries such as Czechoslovakia, China and Russia should be examined. In this way we could prevent goods from any country, whether it be Japan, England, or America, coming on to the Australian market to the detriment of Australian manufactures.

Mr Turnbull - What about the Australian primary producer?

Mr PETERS - I think that the first voice raised in this Parliament to protect the primary producer of chickens was my voice. The primary producer finds his greatest defender in the ranks of Labour as do the industrial workers and the manufacturers.

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