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Thursday, 18 August 1921


Senator DUNCAN (New South Wales) . -The pitiful appeal of Senator Drake-Brockman has interestedme, and one would imagine thathe alone was able to form an opinion as to whether a duty was right or wrong. Does the honorable senator contend that he is the only one in this Chamber who has the interests of theprimary producer at heart? He declares that he despairsof getting anything and, so far,appears to think that he is the only one who can see the light, and that the rest of us walk in darkness. The attitude of the honorable senator reminds me of the old lady who, on seeing her son drilling, said; that the whole regiment were out of step with the exception of her Jock. Thosewho advocate increased duties may, in the opinion of the honorable senator, be " out of step " ; but we believe we are doing what is right. I also wish to remind the honorable senator that the majority rule; and an overwhelming proportion of Commonwealth electors are in favour of effective protection being given to Australian industries. It has been said by Senator DrakeBrockman that he has listened in vain for a. word or two to be said on behalf of those who have to use the iron. I intend to supportthe request submitted by Senator Pratten, in the interests of those people. Let us recall the happenings of the last few years, and consider the position in which the unfortunate primary producers were placed, when, owing to a shortage of iron, tens of thousands of tons of wheat were ruined by inclement weather, owing to the necessary covering not being available. In many instances it was impossible to obtain adequate supplies, because we were depending upon the manufacturers in other countries, when we should 'have been able to call on our ownproducers. It is fair to assume that, had this industry been firmly established ten years ago, the Australian primary producers would have escaped a good deal of suffering,expense, and hardship, and tens of thousands of tons of wheat would have been saved. The changing world conditions necessitate provision being made for the local manufacture of an article so widely used, and which is an absolute necessity to the primary producers. I do not believe that the manufacturers are philanthropists. They are out for profit; but they will not beable to charge unreasonable prices, because the proposed Tariff Board willbe able to watch and closely scrutinize their profits. Iam prepared to give the manufacturers an opportunityof making fair interest on the capital they have invested, but nothing more. This is an established and growingindustry, and within afew years will insurethat we shallnot be faced with the calamitous happenings of the past, when we experienced a serious shortage.Even without any local productionwe might be able to obtain all the galvanized iron we require for the next-five or ten years. We could do without our factories. We could dismiss the men working for good wages and maintaining their wives and families, and force them into other avenues; but the. day would come again, as it did in the, past, when we would be depending on overseas markets for our supplies, and these would again fail us. That would happen if Senator DrakeBrockman's advice were followed. I trust the proposal submitted by Senator Pratten will be adopted. I know that people have been asked to contribute something in order that this industry may be firmly established; but the benefit to be derived will be worth the outlay, and by assisting to develop the galvanized-iron industry on a sound basis we shall be in a position to supply our own requirements at a reasonable price, and be entirely independent of outside manufacturers.







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