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Thursday, 11 June 1970


Mr KELLY (Wakefield) (1:12 AM) I regard this report as one of the most significant reports and a report of the highest quality following an economic analysis and close examination of an industry that I have read. I claim to have read almost every report that has come out since 1960. I regard the report as a first class exercise. The Tariff Board has been spelling out its principles in the last 2 annual reports in an exemplary manner. We all stood around anxiously waiting to see whether its principles were going to be put into practice and hoping - indeed desperately hoping - that when the report was issued it would show that the Board was standing on its principles; that the report would be of sufficient quality to enable the Board's decisions to be implemented. We were also desperately hoping that if the report was of that quality the Government would accept it. The Government did accept it. and I congratulate the Government for accepting it.

I will not go through the report in detail. I repeat that 1 consider it to be a report of the highest quality, lt sets out several things quite clearly. Firstly it states that the high tariff was said to bc necessary and that one of the reasons for this was that Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Ltd was buying its polymer from which the fibre was made at higher than usual prices from its parent company in Britain. What kind of a system would we have in Australia if we increased tariff in Australia to protect industries in Britain. This is what would have happened? The Board's report also set out clearly that it was dangerous to place high tariffs on raw material that is used by other industries. These things are known. They arc truisms. But they had to be spelled out. I will not go into them in detail. I will just take up where the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) left off. He referred to the advertisement by the Textile Council of Australia. It is interesting to note that space was taken in all major newspapers throughout Australia so that the Textile Council could make the point that it was not happy. I wonder whether these overhead costs will be included when the Council applies next to the Tariff Board, if it so applies. This advertisement, for which I trust the Council paid good hard money, states that, the employment of 150,000 people is at risk. It says that the rate of duty is far too low when compared with other duties. With characteristic quickness, the honourable member for Lalor picked it up and pointed out the difference between our low rate and the rates applying in Canada and the United States of America.

I have tremendous respect for ecomomists, particularly those who write, in the newspapers. In the 'Australian' of 1st May, under the heading 'Bluff, Bluster and Emotion on Tariffs', there appeared an article by Kenneth Davidson. That article in the 'Australian' buried the Textile Council advertisement, for which good hard money had been paid, in a way that I have never seen any other similar advertisement or pronouncement buried before. As the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street) so rightly said, of the 150,000 people said to be at risk, only 2.5% were engaged in making the goods under reference, while 97.5% were engaged in using the material and would have had their employment put at risk if this duty had been increased as requested. Therefore, with hard money, the Textile Council paid to make a statement that 150,000 people had their employment put at risk whereas, in fact, only 2.5% or about 5,000 would have had their employment put at risk - if it was put at risk. On the other hand, if the duty had been increased, 97.5% would have had their employment at risk..

This article points out, as the honourable member for Lalor mentioned, that the Council claimed that the Board's report was out of date and based on old information. Interestingly enough, the report was published in November or December. About 2 months before the report was signed, final information was forwarded by Fibremakers Ltd, which had provided the chief witness. The part of the Textile Council's advertisement that really copped the lot is dealt with so well in the article by Kenneth Davidson that I can do no better than quote from the article. It is of such quality that it should be quoted. I pay tribute to the author. Referring to the high rates of duty in the United States of America and Canada the article states:

The Council is just plain silly to try to compare the level of Australian duties on man-made fibres with overseas countries such as Canada and the United States. The rates quoted for Canada apply to a few countries such as Andora and Outer Mongolia, which are not listed by the Canadians as being subject to preferential of MFN duties. The rates quoted for the United States are the penal rates of duty which are applied to Communist countries only, and are at least double the rates the United States applies to its trading partners. In any case, these comparisons are meaningless.

Fancy paying good hard money to have an advertisement such as that which the Council put in the newspapers published, and then getting it tossed back in one's face in that exemplary manner! The article continues:

Does the Council think that, because duties on a particular commodity are high overseas, or there is no duty on another commodity, that Australia should impose a high duty on the first and no duty on the second?

I would like honourable members to listen to the following with more than usual interest:

The advertisement is one of the best public examples of the mixture of bluff, bluster and emotion which has proved so successful in the past in influencing government.

In taking that report apart I could not do better than Kenneth Davidson has done in taking apart the kind of announcements that appear in this advertisement. I repeat that I regard this report as a fine milestone in our economic development. It shows that from now on the Government would do what I feel it has to do and have a much more responsible attitude to the tariff question. I congratulate most sincerely the Tariff Board on the quality of its work and on the courage of its recommendations, and chiefly I congratulate the Government on its courage in accepting them.







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