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Wednesday, 17 August 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- I think honorable senators are quite entitled to consider a request for an amendment of the date upon which this duty shall come into operation. Some development may have occurred in connexion with an industry affected by a deferred duty necessitating an alteration to the date. Senator Drake-Brockman proposes that the date upon which this deferred duty shall come into operation shall be extended for two years. Senator Pratten, on the other hand, proposes that the duty shall come into operation two months earlier. If we even considered Senator Drake-Brockman's proposal we would be breaking faith with the people who have invested their money in the industry sought to be protected, and I do not think that the majority of senators are prepared to break faith with capitalists who, at the request of the Government, backed up by the people of the Commonwealth, have invested an enormous amount of money in order to provide Australia with an industry which must eventually be of great benefit to it. Yet, that is the direction of the honorable senator's proposal, although he stated that the continuance of the bounty would compensate the manufacturers for the loss of the protection proposed to be given after 1st January, 1922. I am not able to see eye to eye with honorable senators who suggest that the whole of the people of Australia should be compelled, except under very special circumstances, to contribute to the maintenance of any industry in which they are not personally interested. A bounty practically means that the whole "of the people have to provide the wherewithal to enable an industry to be carried on satisfactorily, although only a section of the community uses the product of the industry. For that reason I certainly prefer a Protective Tariff to the. bounty system. It is contended that if the date of the deferred duty is not made earlier there must necessarily be a swamping of the market by importation; but I do not think there is much in that idea. We must recognise that the people have been dependent up to now for supplies on importers, who must of necessity cater for the public requirements. I do not blame importers for securing what is necessary a few months ahead, because if they did not do so they would not be worthy of their very, responsible. position. We owe a great deal to importers, who, by the exercise of brain and the use of capital, have been able to supply the public of Australia during the whole of our history, and I " cannot agree with the contention that the date ought to be made earlier because importers axe likely to import what is * necessary in the meantime. In any case, in view of the shortage of supplies, which is likely to continue for some time, I do not think there is -any fear of the market being swamped. At the same time, if the firm can satisfy the Government that they are able to supply the requirements at an earlier date than that proposed, no harm will be done by accepting Senator Pratten's proposal, because the Minister has power to extend the time until the 1st January, or even later. We have, therefore, nothing to fear from Senator Pratten's request, and for that reason I feel disposed to support it. I should now like to' say one word on the remarks by Senator Gardiner in regard to Senator Pratten. Senator Pratten is well able to take care of himself, but I think that Senator Gardiner made an attack upon him when he said that Senator Pratten is here in the interests of the manufacturers, and has no consideration for the workers. Senator Gardiner knows that to a great extent the welfare of the workers of Australia depends on the success of the industry with which we are dealing. Manufacturers cannot possibly make a success of their businesses without at the same time conferring a lasting benefit on the workers !

Senator Gardiner - Nonsense!

Senator PAYNE - Senator Gardinerknows that if these industries, which we are trying to make permanent, were to fail, there would be a bad time for the workers. Every individual worker is anxious to see necessary consideration paid to these industries by Parliament in order to insure their continuance and prosperity.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - The workers only get 17 per cent, of the protection.

Senator PAYNE - As a general principle, the success of an industry must of necessity be eventually of benefit to. those engaged in it, no matter in what capacity; anything likely to injure an industry must re-act on the workers. I hope that the Committee, if it is satisfied that this firm is able to turn out the commodities required at an earlier date than that provided in the Tariff, will approve of the request submitted by Senator Pratten.

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