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Wednesday, 17 August 1921


Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - I merely wish to correct a false impression sought to be created by some honorable senators - notably, Senator Pratten - that the duty in the United States of America was higher than is proposed in this schedule, and I quote from Modem Tariff History, by Percy Ashley, page 187 -

The result of this policy of the President and his advisers was the Tariff Act of 1846, adopted after only a short, though at times exciting Parliamentary struggle. All minimums and specific duties were abolished, and commodities were divided into a number of classes with duties ranging from 5 per cent, to 40 per cent., and in the one case of brandy and spirits, to 100 per cent.; there was also a class of free articles, the chief being tea, coffee, and iron and copper ore. Manufactures of iron and other . metals, wool and woollens, paid 30 per cent., as did the manufactures of leather and glass; cotton goods paid 25 per cent.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - What date is the honorable senator referring to?


Senator LYNCH - I am referring to the United States Tariff Act of 1846.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I think the honorable senator must have misunderstood me. I mentioned the Tariffs of 1883, 1890, and 1909.


Senator LYNCH - Then the honorable senator's reference was to comparatively recent times. I am going back to the period when the position of the United States of America approximated rather remotely to the circumstances of our own time, as regards population and development. This attempt to fasten high protective duties upon a community that is not commercially or industrially highly developed is much like putting a suit of clothes designed for a fully-developed man upon a schoolboy. America, when she imposed these protective duties, was much ahead of the position in which Australia finds herself to-day. In 1850, only four years after the passage of the Tariff Act to which I refer, she had a population of 23,000,000 people, whilst we have little more than 5,000,000; and yet the wisdom of the time, in a country very near to the manufacturing centres :of the world as compared with Australia, suggested a 30 per cent, duty in die case of iron manufactures, and 25 per cent, in the case of 'cotton goods.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the honorable senator suggest that we must wait till we have 20,000,000 people before we establish 'such industries in Australia'?


Senator LYNCH - No. I am merely considering the natural effect of a protective policy, and pointing to the experience in America. Let us consider the process of development of all our flourishing towns. Let us take the history of Toowoomba, Ballarat, Bathurst, Lismore, or almost of any other town. The country exists before the towns. I should like Senator Reid to remember this elementary fact, because he seems to be under the impression that towns come first and must be catered for accordingly. As settlement in country districts proceeds, the first step in the establishment of a town is the appearance of a blacksmith's shop, to which, afterwards, is added the business of a wheelwright. Then we may find an engineering shop, and as business grows, many branches of that technical trade may be added to meet the increasing requirements of the district. This is the history of all towns. They grow in proportion as the district for which they cater develops. It would be just as foolish to plant, in a town like Toowoomba, in Queensland, a high-class engineering and manufacturing establishment from Birmingham as to apply this Tariff to the needs of Australia until we have developed to a greater extent industrially and economically.


Senator Cox - Let us put the sub-item.


Senator LYNCH - The honorable senator, I notice, is always lolling about in his seat in this chamber. He now says, " Put it." I am not prepared to do that. I speak on behalf of people who represent two-thirds of this continent, and I say that up to date their interests have 'not been fully considered in this Tariff. If anything is calculated to' arouse my resentment. it is the consideration given to this Tariff schedule. I come here to exercise my independent opinion, and I am not prepared, by my rote, to do anything towards shovelling into the coffers of any great industrial enterprise millions of pounds at the expense of our primary producers. The maws ©f these .great industrial en terprises are ever ready to get something from the producing interests of this country. They remind me of ia huge, insatiable vacuum pump, 'everything movable or mortgagable in the Commonwealth being claqueurs surrounding them. We are almost told that no industrial enterprise will grow in Queensland unless a big lump of protection is planted at its root. These people have been too long sheltered by a Protective Tariff. But we do not require any such assistance in Western Australia. Our manufacturers there, as Senator Drake-Brockman will testify, are .not to be found on the door-mat of this Parliament, pleading that without protection they cannot grow. The United States of America, with four times the present population of Australia, were satisfied with a 30 per cent, duty on the manufactures of iron ; and under this stimulus the business of manufacturing steel rails increased from 24,000 tons in 1S49 to 184,000 tons in 1856; while under a protection of 25 per cent., the number of cotton spindles employed in the United States of America rose from 3,000,000 in 1840 to over 5,000,000 in 1S60. I recognise the hopelessness of submitting any proposition having for its object the lightening of the burdens of the men engaged in metalliferous mining and other forms of primary production. Throughout the Tariff debate they have received the least consideration. Their voice is inarticulate. The only voice that echoes and re-echoes through this chamber is that raised on behalf of the manufacturer and that section of the primary producers who say that they cannot grow anything without the stimulus of Protective duties. This Tariff will put a. heavier burden on the backs of those who are- already bending under the load they are carrying. It will strain to the utmost the muscles of\ those who do not ask for Tariff assistance, while it will make flaccid and flabby the muscles of the men inside the Tariff barrier. I do not want to see that sort of thing. My desire is that the race shall be maintained with some semblance of sport. This is not sport. The Government are imposing a handicap on. the whole community,, so that those sheltered behind the Tariff wall may gaze at their shelter and say, " We will go slow, there is. no need to extend ourselves like the people outside." The primary producers, who enjoy no protection,, but are exposed to the unfriendly blasts that blow from, every quarter on, the markets of the world, will have to pay for this assistance. They are the men for whom I am speaking. W e have before us a proposal to increase, by more- than 100 per cent, the duty of 40 per cent, recommended by the InterState Commission. We are told that since that recommendation was made wages and manufacturing costs have- increased; but, since they are- rising, to. a correspoaiding, . if not to. a greater, extent in the competing countries, that argument falls to the ground. The Government set off with a duty of' 20s. per ton on pig iron under the- British- preferential Tariff; and, if we follow the steel and iron produced from that pig. iron until it is put into the harvester or. the battery - and gold mining is fast becoming only a memory in Australia - we shall find that, having regard to. the duties imposed on the various commodities employed in the manufacture of those machines, the users of them will have to pay upon them a tax of over 100 per cent. These increased duties are passed on. to the primary producers, because the- manufacturers working inside the Tariff barrier raise their pricesto the very edge of the protecting- wall. I intend to move a request that the duty be reduced, but that it shall still be above the rate recommended by the Inter-State Commission. I shall submit such a request for the reason, that the- various stages in iron production,, from the crude ingots, slabs,, and blooms- to the bar iron and angleiron, can be carried out in the same works iti which thosei ingots and slabs are. pror duced, so that we may reasonably reduce, the duty in this case. We should hesitate to take another false -step, immediattely following- that taken by us in, rC gard to the duties on pig inon, and whenthe proper time comes I shall move, a request on the lines I have indicated.







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