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Friday, 19 August 1921

Senator EARLE (Tasmania) .- I desire to make a few remarks, dealing both with the suggested request by Senator Gardiner and that outlined by Senator Wilson. The Minister (Senator Russell) in his reply to Senator Wilson made an- accurate comparison between the prices charged for agricultural imple-. ments in Free Trade New Zealand and Protectionist Australia, the figures, as honorable senators will remember, being very much to the advantage of the Commonwealth. Some doubt has been expressed, however, as to the accuracy of the Minister's figures so far as they affect the delivery cost to the farmer. I have in my hand the official price-list of the MasseyHarris British-built Farm Machinery Company, issued in- May, 1920, in which it is clearly shown that the quotation made by the Minister relates, only to the delivery price in Auckland, Wellington, Lyttleton, and Dunedin. 'Therefore, the suggestion that the New Zealand price is the price delivered to the farmer is quite inaccurate. Just as the local manufacturer of a reaper and binder will quote the Australian farmer a price, c.i.f. Melbourne or Sydney, so the International Machinery Company will quote to the New Zealand farmer prices c.i.f.' Auckland, Wellington, Lyttleton, or Dunedin.

Senator Gardiner - You had better give us the prices.

Senator EARLE - I have made the comparison, and I find it is quite accurate. The honorable senator may take my word for that, or he may make the comparison himself from the price-list which I shall hand to him.

Senator Gardiner - Does the MasseyHarris Company quote a higher price in Auckland than Sydney?

Senator EARLE - I do not hope to convert Senator Gardiner. Judging by his utterances here he is beyond all hope of conversion, but it is difficult to understand why he and others who still lean ' to the policy of Free Trade are not prepared to profit by the experience of other countries.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the honorable senator wonder at our attitude in view of Senator Wilson's speech ?

Senator EARLE - No doubt Senator Wilson made an impressive speech, but I cannot understand why, having regard to the lessons of history, he is unable to take a wider view of this national question and recognise that a sacrifice must sometimes be made by a part of the community in order that the good of the whole may be achieved. The man who takes the view that one section must be immune from sacrifice, and thai the remaining sections must carry the whole burden, can never hope to be described' as a statesman. Senator Gardiner and Senator Thomas are on a different plane. Incomprehensible though it is to me, they believe that the best policy for any country is that of free competition.

Senator Gardiner - And our belief is based on England's success under such a policy.

Senator EARLE - The conditions prevailing in England and Australia are absolutely different. Let us look for a moment at the experience of other countries which, like Australia, have abundant supplies of raw material. Take what has been done by the United States of America and Germany. Germany, under a rigid system of protection, prior to the war was the most successful nation in the world's history. Had she been able to suppress the military element she would have completely conquered the world by commerce. She was rapidly doing so under a strict Protectionist Tariff - under a policy which declared that Germany should manufacture everything, and that Germans should use only German manufactures. That was her policy, and under it she was able, not. only to supply the requirements of the great German Empire, but was rapidly capturing the trade of the whole world. I do not ask of Australia the same degree of fiscal isolation, but it is absolutely essential that Australia, if she wants to be great, shall adopt a Protective policy. The United States, under a highly Protective policy, has been similarly successful. New Zealand, at one time, had a duty on the agricultural implements to which this item relates, but certain members of the New Zealand Legislature who, like Senator Wilson, thought they would benefit the agriculturists by securing the abolition of the duties on agricul tural machinery, succeeded in doing so with the result as shown by the figures quoted by the Minister, that the prices of agricultural machinery in New Zealand to-day are higher than those charged for the same machines in Australia, where a heavy duty is still in force. Senator Thomas, more in jest than earnest, made several interjections concerning an antidumping Bill, while the Minister was speaking. He has frequently made such interjections, quite oblivious of the fact that a country which has no industries to be destroyed cannot be injured by dumping. If we had no industries, and no prospect of establishing any in Australia, then the greater the dumping that took place here the better, since we should thus have placed at our disposal, enormous quantities of goods at perhaps less than half their value. Dumping is resorted to in order to injure competing industries. The object is; to destroy the local industries, so that the people who indulge in. dumping will be able later on to exploit the market, and ultimately gain far more than they have lost by the process. For an honorable senator to say that the prices charged in New Zealand for machinery and implements that are not protected do away with the fear of dumping is to show that he is unable to grasp the situation. I strongly hold the view that it is in the best interests of those who use agricultural implements that we should do everything to secure the stability of the industry in Australia. I deny that by placing a duty on machinery of this class we are compelling the users of such machinery for all time to pay increased costs. That is contrary to all experience - contrary to fact and common sense; Like their kindred in New Zealand, those honorable senators who lay themselves out specially to guard the interests of the land worker are, whether they recognise it or not, taking a wrong step by proposing the reduction or abolition of these duties. By reducing or abolishing the duties under this item, they would, of necessity, prevent the development of the manufactories engaged in the production of agricultural machines and implements in Australia, and would probably wipe them out of existence. When that happened, those whom they are now seeking to serve would be absolutely at the mercy of foreign manufacturers, and as in New Zealand, and every other country where the same conditions exist, would have to pay the penalty of having been so represented in. this Parliament. It is useless for me to quote further figures showing the difference between Australia and New Zealand in this regard. It is obvious to every honorable senator who knows anything of trade and commerce that the people of any country who are left to the mercy of the importers are exploited to the fullest extent.

Senator Wilson - It is human nature. The remark does not apply to importers alone.

Senator EARLE - It is human nature. In the interests of Australia, these industries should be fostered, even at the cost of some sacrifice, in order that we may be able to supply our own requirements. If our local manufacturers do not play the game, we can control them, and compel them to do so, but such control is impossible where a country has to depend upon the importers for its supplies.

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

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