Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 17 August 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) . - The request moved by Senator Duncan opens up a very wide range for discussion, because it requires to be looked at from many points of view. The honorable senator proposes an increase in the duty on this sub-item in the general Tariff from 80s. to 120s. per ton. I wish to deal with the question from an Australian point of view. We must first of all recognise the necessity of imposing duties adequate to the industrial requirements of the Commonwealth. I take it that in framing this Tariff that was kept in mind. After the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) and his officers had conferred with those able to express opinions worth having on the subject, they eventually arrived at conclusions as to the duties which would meet the industrial needs of Australia. To-day we are asked to especially impose an exceptionally heavy burden on two countries for which in the past we have professed the greatest esteem. Time after time, when necessity arose, we have come to the assistance of those countries by giving what we could of our means to help them tide over the terrible ordeals through which they were called upon to pass.

Senator Duncan - The honorable senator was not prepared to accept the departmental decisions after the conferences to which he has referred in connexion withother items.

Senator PAYNE - I do not think that interjection is at all relevant. We have to deal with the Tariff item by item, and determine each item on the information before us. Senator Duncan, I think, has not gone so far as he intended with his request. I believe it was 'his intention to request the other House to impose exceptionally heavy duties on the British product.

Senator Duncan - It was not my intention to do that.

Senator PAYNE - Well, I understood that that was his purpose, and I fully expected him to move in that direction. In dealing with these Tariff items we ought to allow a certain amount of sentiment to play its part. We cannot hope to progress if we adopt a policy of isolation, because, for very many years, we shall be dependent on other countries for many commodities necessary for the proper development of the Commonwealth.

Senator Bolton - Is not the Empire big enough to supply all requirements?

Senator PAYNE - The Empire is big, and I am quite prepared to do all I can to assist the Empire in this matter, but when we have an honorable senator saying that it is essential, for the success of our industrial enterprises, to shut out the manufacturers of France or Belgium-

Senator Duncan - They can enjoy the benefit of the intermediate Tariff by arrangement.

Senator PAYNE - I have taken the trouble to ascertain how the intermediate Tariff may be applied for the relief of those countries which are so vitally interested in the iron and steel trade. On this item we have a duty, in the general Tariff, of £4 per ton, and Senator Duncan's request is for an increase of 50 per cent. The honorable senator now says that France and Belgium may enjoy the benefit of the intermediate Tariff, and, consequently, they need not be affected by his request. But what does the Bill say about the matter? It provides that the application of the intermediate Tariff shall be by means of a proclamation, which shall not be issued until the Minister has referred to the Tariff Board the question whether, having regard to the probable reciprocal benefits, it is desirable in the interests of the Commonwealth to issue the proclamation.

Senator Duncan - That means that if America, Belgium, or France will reciprocate they may enjoy the benefits of the intermediate Tariff. What is wrong with that?

Senator PAYNE - The honorable senator gave me the impression that he was thinking that the relief provided by (he intermediate Tariff could be given to France and Belgium at the discretion of the Minister.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - No; I heard the honorable senator use the words "by arrangement."

Senator Russell - The application of the principle would have to be by "mutual arrangement.

Senator PAYNE - Of course it would ; and' it is possible that Belgium, owing to her peculiar position, without any inten- tion of being unfriendly, would not be able to satisfy the Tariff Board that the reciprocity offered was adequate. Therefore, the principle would not be applied. We should not seek to place France or Belgium in the same position as Germany. 1 remember the sacrifices Belgium made during the war on behalf of the Allies, and I remember that when an appeal was made on her behalf no country responded more liberally than did Australia. I hope we shall never forget what we owe to Belgium.

Senator Reid - And Belgium ought never to forget what she owes to other countries.

Senator PAYNE - I do not know what change has been wrought in the minds of honorable senators. I can well remember many honorable senators making the public statement to the effect that we were very greatly indebted indeed to Belgium.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That was before we knew as much as we know now.

Senator PAYNE - If gratitude is so evanescent, I want none of it. If we adopt Senator Duncan's request, and thus increase the duties in this sub-item against France and Belgium, we shall not be acting in the best interests of the people of Australia.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - From the commercial, but not the sentimental, stand-point, I am with you.

Senator PAYNE - -Well, that is my attitude. Sentiment enters very largely into the composition of all British people. Our Empire has been built up largely by sentiment, and, at this stage, we cannot afford to ignore it; but, in my opinion, the difference between 44s. per ton in the British preferential Tariff, and 80s. per ton in the general Tariff, ought to be adequate for the preservation of British industries.

Senator Vardon - Why does not Great Britain take some steps to protect her own industries? -

Senator PAYNE - The honorable senator might put that question to the people of Great Britain.

Senator de Largie - Why do we give Great Britain preference if not because of sentiment?

Senator PAYNE - Of course, it is a matter of sentiment; but surely a difference of practically 100 per cent, between the British and the general Tariff ought to be a sufficient margin to insure British supremacy in the Australian trade for all time. The margin is ample, in my opinion, and, for that reason, I feel compelled to oppose the amendment.

Suggest corrections