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Friday, 15 July 1921

The PRESIDENT -- Order ! The honorable senator's time .has expired-.

Easttension of time granted on motion by Senator Gardiner.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I thank the Senate for the consideration which it has extended to me. We cannot blame foreign manufacturers for attempting to capture our markets. But it is our duty to see that they are not successful. We ought, therefore, to do our best in the hurly-burly of commerce to help our manufacturers and. producers. I do not think that the world will get back to pre-war costs for a long time yet, if it ever does. I know that the prices for the world's principal commodities such as wheat, wool, . rubber, metals, tea, cotton, steel, coal, and fats are not at all steady. I do not think that the pendulum average price has yet been reached or will be reached for some time. But in view of the average rise in" wages throughout the world, we may reasonably expect that the prices of these commodities over a decade, will never again reach the low pre-war level. The cost of living in England even now is over 100 per cent, more than it was before the. war, and it will be agreed that the cost of living has a very vital effect upon the prices of commodities. In pursuing this sidelight of the many phases incidental to the' Tariff, I wish to say that so far as the primary producer is concerned, in spite of the stagnation in the wool industry to-day, he may look forward with reasonable security to an overseas market for a period of .at least a de- cade with reasonable prices. I am not too keen about making a mountain out of the molehill of a difference in a few pounds in price of a certain article if the., purpose served is to strengthen the policy in which I. thoroughly believe, and that is the making of Australia self-contained and self-supporting.

T believe that Protection and production must automatically attract a larger population. This increased population is one of the keys, and, perhaps, the only key, required to lock up a good many of Australia's' troubles. In making the Tariff scientific, and as reasonably Protective as we can, we shall be doing what is best for the future of the country; we shall be helping to meet the financial position, and we shall be stimulating the favorable, balance .of trade. I believe that the Bill is sound in policy, and its main principles will have . my general support.

I should like to. say 'a word or two fu conclusion upon two matters closely related to the subject of this measure. First of all,.' what is going to be ,done in connexion with the renewal of commercial relations with Germany? I- hope that we shall obtain some information on this , subject before we are called upon to complete our labours in connexion with this Bill. My attitude in some directions, and to some extent, will depend upon what the futurehas in store for us in this connexion. Another matter that was raised by my honorable friend, Senator DrakeBrockman, is that of the establishment of the proposed Tariff Board. I believe that the fundamental intention, of the Government in creating a Tariff Board is to make it impossible for a manufacturer, or a group of manufacturers or business men, who are highly protected under the Tariff, to exploit the consumer. With that intention, I entirely agree ; but -my vote will be recorded against any Tariff Board if, directly or indirectly, it is proposed to enable it to take out of the control of Parliament the ultimate decision as to what duties shall be imposed. I shall deal with the Tariff as I best can as a representative of the people. I am prepared, so far as, my vote is concerned that it shall be final, and I shall not consent to any abrogation of my rights here as a representative of New South Wales. I shall expect to be asked to support legislation in connexion with the establishment of a Tariff Board, or other legislation appertaining to the Tariff, only * onthe understanding that if it is found that any alteration of the Tariff . as it passes this Chamber is necessary, the alteration proposed must be reviewed by this Chamber before it can come into force. I thank honorable senators for their attention. I hope I have made my attitude upon' the Tariff clear.

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