Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 19 August 1921

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I was rather surprised at some of the remarks made by my colleague from New South Wales, Senator Duncan, whose temporary absence from the chamber I regret. I have listened to many speeches made by him during the Tariff debates, and, however much I might have differed from him, have not given expression to my disagreement. His statement that I would sooner give employment to 1,000 people in Great Britain than provide employment for 10,000 in Australia was both ungenerous and uncalled for. Senator Duncan says -that Protectionists are anxious to give a preference to Great Britain, but, as I understand their attitude, they" are not prepared to give Britain a preference that would be detrimental to Australian manufacturers.

Senator Earle - That is so.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Senator Earleis a Protectionist, and admits that I have correctly stated the attitude of those' who share his views. Shortly put, they are prepared to give Great Britain a preference where it will be of no service/ but are not prepared to grant it such a preference as might lead to importations to the detriment of Australian production. In the case of this item, it is said that a duty of 20 per cent, is necessary to enable local manufacturers to cope with competition from overseas. Do Protectionists think that a British preferential duty of 15 per cent, will be sufficient to enable British manufacturers to compete with our own?

Senator Earle - No.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable senator is perfectly frank. The reason why I am not very euthusiastic about Protective duties is not that I desire to see our people unemployed, but that I believe such duties are calculated to cause unemployment. I may be wrong in that view ; but even if I am it is ungenerous for an honorable senator and a colleague to say that I think more of finding employment for 1,000 people ' in Great Britain than of providing work for 10,000 here. I am quite as sincere as he is in the desire that our people shall be profitably employed, and when Senator Duncan expresses surprise at some of my remarks, I think I am well entitled to express surprise at some of his actions and votes. He moved to- increase the duty on pig iron, and so to increase the cost of the raw material of the agricultural machinery makers. Having imposed that handicap upon them, he now supports increased duties on the finished article so that he may say to the machinery makers, " I did my best to make up for the handicap that I put upon you in respect of your raw material."

Senator Duncan - It was not a handicap at all.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - If the imposition of a duty on pig iron, which was previously free, was not a handicap on those who use it as their raw material, why is a duty on agricultural machinery a handicap on any section of the community? It is because Senator Wilson and others, who claim to speak on behalf of the farmers, have said that this duty is a handicap that I have taken up the position to which he objects.

Senator Duncan - The additional duty on the raw material represents only 10s. on the cost of a harvester.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Why is an increased duty a handicap in one case and not in the other? If the honorable senator had voted to make pig iron and bar iron free, I could have understood his position, but as it is, I fail to understand why he favours an increased duty on agricultural machinery.

Suggest corrections