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Wednesday, 17 August 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - I really do not know where I stand in this matter, and that is easily explained by the course which our Tariff legislation has taken up to date. On. looking at the price-list of various commodities I find that bar iron, the raw material from, which wire is made, costs £32 per ton. That is according to the Industrial Australian 'and Mining Standard of this month. I find in the same list that No. 10 gauge wire is quoted at the same price. There must be something wrong with these figures! Senator . Pratten said that No. 8 gauge wire costs £16 per ton, but according to the pricelist before me it costs £26 10s. per ton.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I said that £22 per ton is the selling price, f.o.b., Newcastle to-day.

Senator LYNCH - According to the list before me, the price is £26 per ton. If the raw material of the wire industry is at such a high price as that I have quoted, even the' proposal of the Government is hopelessly inadequate for the protection of the industry. I know that wire netting costs the price quoted for it, because I paid that price for it myself months ago. The duty imposed on the raw material of these manufactures will" have to be added to- theburden of those on the countryside who must use the manufactured article, those for whom we have heard so many pleas put forward to-night. At the outset of this Tariff debate I took up the position that I would be prepared to give every industry a fair chance to succeed, provided, of course, that those engaged in it put forward their very best efforts. My policy is to give every one a fair start,, and to encourage them to get a move on,, and if they do not, to withdraw the help given. In this case, it is conceivable thatthe duty will particularly benefit those associated with the big Newcastle Works.. The small man, in whose behalf the Minister (Senator Russell) spoke to-night, will have very little chance of startingoperations, because he will be obliged to go to the Broken Hill Proprietary Com- pany for this raw material, and then market it in competition with the company itself. In the management of businesses of this description, the multiplication of a given set of processes under one control must result in a reduction of overhead charges. Therefore, the only effect of this duty will be to give still greater protection to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, with no corresponding benefit, so far as the creation of new industries is concerned, to the people of the Commonwealth. If, for instance, a man with a capital of £5,000 wished to commence business in the manufacture of wire netting, he would have to buy his blooms, his rod iron, and all the other material from the Newcastle works. How, then, could he sell his product in competition with that great industrial concern, which is specially designed to keep down the cost of production? He would have no hope in the world. If this much is conceded - and I do not see how honorable senators can think otherwise - the prospect of establishing new industries is exceedingly remote unless, of course, the Minister (Senator Russell) can tell us that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company are going out of this particular branch of their business, and that is not at all probable. Would any honorable senator put £10,000 into a venture of this description in these circumstances? It is plain, I think, that the only effect of the duty will be to enable ' the Broken Hill Proprietary Company to make still greater profits and crush out the small man. '

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - There is no small man to be crushed.

Senator LYNCH - The Minister just now put forward the plea that the duty was for the purpose of encouraging the establishment of small industries.

Senator Payne - Ite was referring to the wire-weaving industry.

Senator LYNCH - If any manufacturer can engage in the fine wire-weaving, industry, he can also handle the mediumsized wire. There is no essential difference between No. 16 and No. 10 wire. I have no desire to discount the value of the industry at Newcastle, or to qualify in any way the commendation I have already placed on record concerning that great industrial enterprise. But with regard to this sub-item, we have to think of the probable effect of the duty. We must recognise that if the Broken Hill Proprietary Company remain in the field the small manufacturer will not have the ghost of a chance of succeeding. Everything will depend upon how they are going to behave. Are they going to tread the path of the monopolists? I am afraid they . are, because I have perused a copy of a certain document which sets out that if manufacturers desire to be supplied with raw material at a certain price they must buy exclusively from that" concern. This statement was made in the House of Representatives, and it was denied; but I saw the document, or, at all events, a copy of it, and it now remains for the Broken Hill Proprietary Company to contradict my statement. Is not this the beginning of the nefarious practices of those Trusts which are the curse of the United States of America under a high Protectionist policy? This brings me to another point. If there is one thing in the world that would make me take this stand, it is the facility with which men change their opinions when they find themselves in different circumstances. How did the Broken Hill Proprietary Company make its money? In the first instance, it was a struggling mining proposition. It is quite true that Dame Fortune smiled beneficently on its operations. It progressed and made huge profits. Since then it has changed its occupation, and instead of being engaged in the mining of silver, it is largely concerned in the mining of iron ore from Iron Knob, in South Australia, and in the manufacture of material required for all the great iron and steel industries of the Commonwealth. If we could get the collective opinion of those associated with the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, when it was a struggling concern, I think they would look more favorably and sympathetically on their sister industries in the industrial field than they do to-day. They have changed their nature, and from being operators in metalliferous mining they have, as disclosed by the last balance-sheet, made a clear profit of £500,000 in their; new "venture. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company, as I have -said, have changed their occupation, and evidently their, sympathies have changed accordingly. Hence the necessity for us to. tell them, plainly that they are not going to tread, the well-beaten, and recognised track of huge combinations in- America. We must tell: . them plainly that they will not beallowed to do that in Australia if the Government of the day is worth it3 salt, and is able to prevent them from doing, so. We have a chance in. this case , toprevent such being done. We already have done very well for them. We have piled on duty after, duty; for. which they did not ask. until lately. We have given them a big duty on pig iron, and. here we have a further proposal to give them, a duty on wire, which is made under the same roof as is the- pig iron produced from our iron ore. I invite, honorable- senators to consider for a moment the invidious position that is to be created. The Minister proposes to grant a concession to the manufacturersof. small-gauge wire; that will help the mattress makers and the wire weavers in. many of our cities. But he refuses to grant any such concession in respect of the larger grades of wire, the purchasers of. which are just as- much entitled to consideration as are the small manufacturers of the metropolis. Such wire. is purchased by the man outback, concerning whose lot every word spoken by Senator Guthrie is the absolute truth.. The. importance of the wheat industry of Aust tralia cannot be too often emphasized.,Some time.. ago I. asked the Governmentfor information regarding the wheat industry, and they commissioned- the Government (Statistician to supply me with it. Senator Russell will remember that I was supplied with' nearly 100 pages of information concerning, various tin-pot industries in this country ; but. with only three pages relating, to the- great wheatsrowing industry. That was all the inrformation they could give me under thevarious headings in respect of which I had asked- for particulars about the wheat industry, as compared with nearly 100- pages of matter relating to other industries. This is but another illustration of the interest shown in the small secondary industries compared with the huge wheatgrowing industry of Australia and the people engaged in it, who observe the most commendable silence in regard to their burdens and afflictions. We arerapidly: approaching a time when people will pause before they decide to go into; the wheat-growing areas. That fact is shown in the Commonwealth Y ear-Book.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap -Order! The honorable senator's time has expired.

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