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Thursday, 11 August 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) (3:16 AM) . - I have been waiting to hear something said to explain the necessity for this duty. We have heard arguments as to the necessity for every increase of duty asked for; but with all due respect to those whose opinions are opposed to those of the advocates of a reduced duty, not one single instance has been given this morning to show that Australia stands in need of a higher duty upon woollen goods. We have had generalities only in reply to specific instances as quoted by Senator Guthrie and not contradicted. Senator Guthrie is perfectly right in saying that Ministers have treated him with studied disrespect by not replying to what he has said.

Senator Duncan - Because there is no reply to what he has said.

Senator LYNCH - I can quite believe that his speech was so unanswerable that there could be no reply to it. It is said that there is a wide field for the expansion , of our woollen industry. Let me repeat that we only made a start to manufacture woollen goods in Australia in 190S, when the duty was increased to 25 per cent. It was impossible to do anything under the previous duty of 15 per cent, at a time when the manufacturers at the other end of the world were so heavily advantaged as compared with those in Australia, but now, on the authority of the hand-book prepared by the Government for the information of honorable senators, conditions of labour have been evened up. If Senator Earle has seen this hand-book, and learned from it that labour conditions in the Old Country are now equal to those here, how can he support a duty of 30 per cent., especially when he cannot furnish a single instance of a woollen goods manufacturer in Australia who has gone into liquidation, or is in a bad way, or is not paying decent wages? The honorable senator is prepared to vote for this increase in duty, although all the facts . supplied in this publication, go to support the arguments put forward by Senator Guthrie, to whom up to date not a single reply has been vouchsafed.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Two replies have been given to the statements made by Senator Guthrie.

Senator LYNCH - That is. true, but no thanks are due to the Government for them. I am not here to give a silent vote on such a matter. I have my own opinions, . but propose to keep an open mind in dealing with this Tariff. As a matter of fact, if it were dealt with on its merits, if convinced Free Traders would vote Free Trade and convinced Protectionists were willing to adopt a policy of giving adequate protection and nothing more, those who are in accord with my views would win hands down. But the Tariff is not being considered on its merits. If the Government holds up its hand in one direction, there are senators willing to slavishly and blindly follow.

Senator Earle - You have no right to say that.

Senator LYNCH - I can say nothing less. Not a single case has been cited of an Australian industry which is languishing as a result of the present Tariff. When the time arrives when it is sought to put other industries on a fair level, we shall see whether there are honorable senators prepared to single out the woollen manufacturers, and give them duties for which they do not ask, while, at the same time, protection is curtailed in the case of industries which, perhaps, are entitled to more consideration. Apparently we are proceeding as though the operatives in the Old Country still received half the wages that are paid to Australian workmen. If we desire to have a well-balanced Tariff, we must see that even-handed justice is done all round, and that not only those who happen to be woollen manufacturers receive the benefits.

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