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Thursday, 18 August 1921

Senator EARLE (Tasmania) . - If this request is adopted it will paralyze what I believe to be a very important industry in Australia. It will certainly induce the manufacturers of both barbed wire and wire netting to import their raw material; and that is what we do not want to see.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Undoubtedly ; but what can we do ?

Senator EARLE - Stand firm, and let the manufacturers who are prepared and able to manufacture their material from the raw material of Australia, do so.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then you kill the " other fellow "!

Senator EARLE - I do not think so. One firm which is launching out in a large way is manufacturing its own stuff, and drawing its own wire. The reasonable thing to suppose is that if we reduce the duty on wire, these people will give up the business of drawing wire as unprofitable, and depend on imported wire from cheaper countries. The only result of our endeavours to do the right thing will be to knock out the industry of . drawing wire, and retain the industry of manufacturing netting. We may be able to patch up the vessel and sail through if we do not do any more damage. Honestly, I think we have done wrong ; but do not let us ruin, or run the risk of ruining, another industry. If the Committee have made a mistake, it is not a very big one, and no doubt the company will make an effort to carry on. If they can produce evidence to the Tariff Board that they cannot carry on and compete with foreign manufacturers, it will be within the scope of Parliament to remedy the position. If, however, we pursue matters to the ridiculous conclusion, and because we have done wrong in one respect do wrong in another, we will " knock out " both industries. If we leave the Tariff on wire as it is, it will, I believe, make it necessary for the manufacturers of netting and barbed wire to manufacture from Australian raw material, and that is very much better than going to the other extreme. It would; in my opinion, be a great mistake to adopt the request of Senator Gardiner.

Senator GARDINER(New South Wales) [10.201. - Senator Earle's statement is extraordinary. He holds that the Committee has been mistaken in its consideration of quite a number of items. I maintain just as firmly . that the Committee knew what it was doing.

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