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Wednesday, 17 August 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - In the request put before us by Senator Duncan we have one of those thinly-veiled disingenuous proposals to add an additional story to the Tariff structure. The honorable senator has no hope of carrying such , a request, but his object is to induce those honorable senators who may be wavering between two opinions to come to a conclusion that it is just as well not to seek a reduction, but to pass the sub-item as it stands. This is not the first occasion on which such tactics have been adopted. Some of us think that it is not the duty of the Committee to say, meekly, "We concur in everything that is. put before us by the Government." We believe that the Senate is entitled to express an independent opinion with regard to the Tariff just as the House of Representatives has done, but up to date we have not had sufficient back-bone to express it.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Some of us have.

Senator LYNCH - But not the majority. Up to date, the decisions of the Committee on the Tariff items have been but a blocked reflex of the opinion of the House of Representatives. The Government has taken its cue from another place', and having labelled as " Government policy " the decisions of that House, it asks us to swallow them. I realize that the Committee is somewhat embarrassed by the fact that it agreed last night to exorbitant duties on pig iron. This division may be compared, for argumentative purposes, to a palatial edifice, erected upon substantial foundations. Sub-item a, relating to pig iron, represents the 'f foundations, and on those foundations we are piling story after story. In the opinion of its designers this is a beautifully worked-out division. It is a kind of mosaic, and one cannot put a> needle-point into any joint of it without disturbing the relation of the parts and disarranging the whole scheme. That has been the plea advanced on behalf of the Government, sp that the move made by Senator Duncan to secure an increased duty under paragraph c must have that effect if he succeeds, in spite of his effort to be serious. 11008 Customs Tariff [SENATE.] Bill.

The duty of 20s. per ton on pig iron under the British preferential Tariff is the foundation upon which we build a many-storied Tariff building, with 15-ft. ceilings, in the shape of the duties on blooms and ingots. Then the Government come along with successive stories of 15 feet, in the shape of duties of 44s., 65s., and 80s. per ton under subitems. Senator Duncan now wants to add another 10 feet to one story by requesting the House of Representatives to increase the duty under paragraph c. My proposal yesterday was that we should . so lay the foundations of this division that we should not need to curtail or enlarge the structure proposed to be raised upon it. My desire was that we should so lay the foundations of the division that our decisions with respect to the remaining items would be in keeping with them. That, however, was not done. Senator Duncan seems to think that those who are opposed to the item as it stands cannot read or write. The Government also appear to hold the view that those who oppose it are incapable of passing an intelligent vote on the Tariff. Senator Duncan has asked us to agree to his request so as to bring the duties under sub -item c into line with those operating under the Tariff of the "United States of America. Has he read that Tariff?

Senator Duncan - Yes; I have it here.

Senator LYNCH - In the Shipping WorldYear-Book for 1921 it is set out that item 103 of the United States of America Tariff reads -

Muckbars, bar iron, square iron, rolled or hammered, round iron, in coils or rods, bars or. shapes of rolled or hammered iron, n.s.p. 5 per cent. ad val.

Senator Duncan'sproposal is that under the general Tariff we should have a duty of 120s. par ton on those items, so as to bring our Tariff into line with the 5 per cent. Tariff of the United States of America!

Senator Duncan - The Tariff on which the United States of America built up its iron and steel industry provided for a duty of 210s. a ton.

Senator LYNCH - I knew that the honorable senator would fall back upon that argument. When he, and those who think with him, are driven from one strong-post theyretreat to another. They are always in the rear. They are pelted from every post they take up. The trouble is that the arguments are all on our side and the majority of the votes on the other. The Canadian iron duties were never so high as those contemplated in this division. We cannot afford to ignore the wonderful progress and advancement made by Canada,which has set us an example that we might worthily emulate. The Canadian duty upon steel and iron bars, rods, and so on is 12s. 4d. per ton, as against the proposal of the Government in this case for a duty of 80s. per ton under the general Tariff. Canada built up her iron industry under a low Tariff. I am not advocating a low Tariff. I am prepared to give adcquate protection to any industry really in need of help. But when the Tariff wall is sufficiently high to afford ample protection I am not prepared to add an extra brick to it. When that is done the practice of local manufacturers is to make their prices just a shade below those commanded by the inflowing commodities. We are asked to add an extra brick to the Tariff wall in this case, without regard to the interests of the people throughout the Commonwealth, who have to buy, in their multifarious forms, the materials covered by the sub-item. This Tariff, as Senator Guthrie has said,is designed to aim a blow at rural, as compared with urban, production. I say, advisedly, that in its present form it is a fingerpost to rural stagnation. The reports of the Inter-State Commission arc never mentioned by the Government or Senator Duncan unless they suit their purpose, but whenever they lend themselves, even colorably, to the policy of the Government, they are put before us bythem in a lavish manner. In a report issued in 1916 the Inter-State Commission stated that -

Messrs. C. and G. Hoskins Limited, of Litlh- gow, were the only applicants for a protective duty,but the managing director of the Lion Rolling Mills Proprietary Limited, although his company did not. apply for assistance, stated, in evidence, that the duty proposed 'by Messrs. Hoskins would materially increase the business of his mills in regard to bars.

Of course it would. He did not ask for the duty, but he said that if such a duty were passed it would be of great assistance to his company. Men will naturally take these high duties if they are flunga t them. If I were offeredsuch monumental advantages I should feel that nothing re- mained for mo to do but to accept them, and. I do not blame the manager of the Lion Boiling Mills for his attitude. According to the Inter-State Commission, Messrs. C. and G. Hoskins Limited "were the only applicants for a Protective duty. What is wrong with their concern? I do not want to pass an opinion upon it, because I .am not acquainted with its operations, but I am entitled to ask in what respect it differs from those of other firms carrying on the same industry,, seeing that no one else in the same field has asked for an 'additional duty except them. In such circumstances. I am entitled to conclude either that Messrs. Hoskins Limited are asking for excessive protection, or that they have not brought their works up to date - for which the consumers have no right to pay - cither one or the other. Fair play is bonny play the world over, and when I see that men engaged in this industry side by side with Hoskins Limited do not raise their voices in the demand this firm has made, I must conclude that something is wrong about its position.

What protection have the primary producers ? Nothing. They take their products into the markets of the world, jostle there with producers of every shade and colour of the human species, and beat them to earth, winning through simply by the exercise of their own native energies. They do not come to this chamber and ask for anything they do not want. There are 200,000 of them producing wheat in Australia. Compare their number with the paltry 10,000 persons engaged in the iron industry.

I respect Mr. Delprat for the attitude he has taken up. But, as a matter of fact, this Senate has gone out of its way to tell him that he does not know his own business. I will not take that responsibility upon myself. I believe that Mr. Delprat knows, his own business a million times better than does any member of this Senate. However, let us get down to brass tacks, tin tacks, or any other kind of tacks, and ask ourselves what is happening in this country. Those who are engaged in producing wealth from the auriferous mines of Australia, and particularly those who have jostled in the world's markets with so much success amongst' outside competitors, ask no favour, but are ready to submit their products in competition with those of India, Argentine, or the Balkans. They are of the stuff of which the country is in need, and not of the stuff of. those who come to this Parliament whining for assistance which, when given, causes them afterwards to be the " slackers " of industry, and make no call upon those natural reservoirs of energy which alone will enable them so to establish their industry that they may stand four-square to the competition, of the world. . There are two sections in this country - one which cannot live unless it has protection, and another which, lives without asking for anything of the kind from this Parliament. Our big dailies deplore the manifest tendency, of the people to drift country districts to the city. What is the cause of this? If anything is directly responsible for it it is this iniquitous Tariff. I want to hold 'the scales fairly. My action in respect to this schedule is not to be interpreted as meaning that I am against the people who are engaged in the particular industry sought to be protected by the duties attached to this sub-item. I am anxious to put a handicap upon foreign competition, but only so as to make the race even at the end with perhaps a slight shade of advantage to our own men. But where are honorable senators when I ask for this? Every time they are to be found voting blindly with, the Government without rhyme or reason for what they are doing, I have taken the trouble to find out the relative position of the population of the cities and rural areas' in other parts of the world, particularly in Canada and the United States of America, which countries are comparable to ours.

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