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Wednesday, 10 August 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western ' Australia) . - - Long before a Tariff embargo had been placed on the importation of soaps, Australian manufacturers had at:tained prominence. They were not only holding their own in the local market, but were able to compete fearlessly outside, In 1915-16, when, shipping difficulties were not acute, the exports of soap from Aus-, tralia amounted to about 8,400,000 lb, weight. That was under the old Tariff. The value of the product was . in the neighbourhood of £109,000. In 1919-20 - the embargo having been imposed and then lifted again - Australian manufacturers not only maintained their ability to supply Australia's requirements, but were able again to export about 8,000,000 lb. weight. The value of the exports, however, had very nearly doubled.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - In 1919-20 tallow was selling at the highest prices ever known.

Senator LYNCH - Quite so, but the point is that, without protection, Australian manufacturers not only held their own at home, but continued to exploit overseas markets. Where is the. need for imposing a duty to assist such an industry? I look upon a Tariff as a form of handicap - one which will aid a young, locally-reared industry against strong foreign competitors. Parliament is the handicapper. It is its duty, in the interests of the public, to insure a close commercial race. The handicappers are not performing their duty if they give such favorable weights to home starters that they can finish ahead of the foreign field, even though they go slow. I do not propose to be accused of unfair handicapping. I shall be no party to the encouragement, within Australia, of go-slow industries, slack and flabby enterprises, for lack of competition. I realize that in any moderate application of Protection I may not be acting in the best interests of the State I represent; but I am swayed by the greater interests of the people of the Commonwealth at large. I do not know what will be the outcome of this Committee's consideration of the Tariff schedule. A beginning has scarcely been made. Almost all the more important items are ahead. There will be a scattering of the forces which have hitherto grouped themselves in this Chamber. There are some honorable senators who have consistently, blindly, and inexplicably supported the Government, no matter what may have been the interests at stake, nor in what direction the considerations of the Committee may have tended - that is to say, whether towards an increase or a 'modification, which has hardly happened yet, of rates of duty. I shall support Senator Pratten's request, and when common soap is under consideration I shall move to revert to the old rate. I say that neither the Tariff Guide nor any responsible authority urges - the necessity of additional protection to the soap industry in this country.

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