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Wednesday, 3 May 1961


Mr TURNBULL (Mallee) .- We have just listened to a speaker on this bill who said, first of all, that there were admirable clauses in the bill but then raised objections to others. This bill is a safeguard against certain dumping. As the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) said, the Australian Country Party believes in a certain amount of protection, but if everything that the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) advocated were implemented, no goods would be imported into this country at all. The honorable member has made it very clear that, under his policy, if we could produce in this country all the goods that we needed no imports would be allowed. When he was speaking, I interjected, "What about the primary producer? " This is a great primary producing country. Secondary industries are very dependent on the primary industries of Australia, not only for local raw materials, but also because the primary industries supply 80 per cent, of our exports which build up our overseas balances and enable the purchase of raw materials overseas to keep our secondary industries in operation.

Here we have a Labour member advocating restriction of imports from Japan. The available statistics indicate that a month ago we were selling to the Japanese primary products at the rate of £135,000,000 per annum. We were buying from Japan £48,000,000 worth of goods per annum, so that the balance of trade was greatly in our favour. It may be that there are some Japanese goods coming into this country which we could do without, but we have a trade agreement with the Japanese and the balance of trade is so much in our favour that we have to accept certain goods in order to keep trade buoyant. We in this corner of the House stand not only for the primary producer but also for the residents of country towns who depend for their prosperity on the surrounding farm lands.

The Labour Party was against the trade agreement with Japan. When the former leader of the Australian Labour Party moved an amendment to the legislation ratifying the agreement every member of the Labour Party who was in the House at the time voted for it. When the only member of the Opposition who puts forward some commonsense propositions for the primary producer, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), returned from a trip overseas he must have said to the Labour Party, " It is time that you softpedalled on the Japanese Trade Agreement". Since then, the Labour Party has been strangely quiet in its opposition to the agreement. Of course, they want it both ways. They want to be able to say that they are against the agreement and so to curry favour with the textile industry. But they also want to be able to say that they support the agreement, in the hope of getting some misguided primary producers on their side. The honorable member for Scullin represents a metropolitan electorate. In his electorate are industrial workers for whom I have every sympathy if they are unemployed. The honorable member says that goods should not come into this country under any circumstances if this means increased unemployment. But what if not importing these goods should decrease production in the great primary producing industries? What about the primary producer having to buy his goods on a high local market and to sell most of his products on the world market?

If Australia were big enough to consume all our primary products I would say to the honorable member for Scullin, "You have a perfect case". But that is not so. We cannot always sell and never buy. Therefore, any sane government tries to get on to a fairly level keel, buying from overseas and selling overseas in reciprocal trade. By that means, primary industries are kept prosperous. It has been truly said that when primary industries are prosperous there is no need to worry about other sectors of the economy. That is a fact. We know it was gold that first brought substantial population to Australia. When gold mining became unprofitable, people looked for something more stable and turned to primary production. On the basis of primary production we built up secondary industries. I have said in this chamber on many occasions that we should give our secondary industries every assistance possible, but not at the expense of the primary producer. Primary production is the foundation of the prosperity of this country, and any future stability can come only from that source.

Mr.CREAN (Melbourne Ports) r10.40]. - I should like to support my colleagues, the honorable members for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and Scullin (Mr. Peters), who have pointed out that the Tariff Board, as far back as August, 1959 - getting on for two years ago - suggested that certain changes were necessary in what are known as the anti-dumping provisions of our customs law. We have already chided the Minister for being late in his presentation of the measure, but I still say it is expecting a little much of a House such as this to discuss in a matter of a couple of hours something on which it has taken the Government nearly two years to make up its mind.

The bill will repeal the Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Act 1921-1957, and will supersede that act and one or two other measures. This is necessary largely because of deficiencies in the act to which the Tariff Board pointed in its annual report for 1958-59. The principal difference in the measures, old and new, seems to arise from the fact that the Tariff Board in its report pointed to the inadequacy of the word " detriment ". Because of certain legal doubts about the degree of detriment, that word is replaced by the phrase " causing or threatening injury to Australian industry ". It would seem, on reading the measure, that it does go along the road to correcting the deficiencies which the Tariff Board said exist in the present law.


Mr Osborne - The most important part is the definition of " normal value of their goods ".







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