Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 23 August 1921

Senator EARLE (Tasmania) . - I desire to very briefly express my opposition to Senator Lynch's request. I am sure that in doing so I shall not satisfy that honorable senator and others who are looking to obtain as much Free Trade as they can possibly secure under this schedule.

Senator Lynch - Does the honorable senator call a duty of 30 per cent. Free Trade ?

Senator EARLE - They will not consider that industries require protecting until they are wiped out of existence. Nothing but the closing of the doors of factories in Australia will satisfy those honorable senators that it is necessary to protect them against foreign importations. When that stage is reached they will probably say, "Who would have thought it? We are very sorry; perhaps if we give them protection they will start again." If we err let it be on the- side of giving too much protection, knowing that the industry will flourish, and that the Tariff Board, for which provision has already been made, will be able to obtain information on sworn evidence, such as we cannot obtain here, as to the protection absolutely necessary - as to the border line between success and failure - and recommend to this Parliament what is actually required. The honorable senator who has submitted this request, has expressed the opinion that it is unnecessary to protect the industry as proposed. He has no evidence to support that contention. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) has pointed out that since 1913 the production of the industry has considerably decreased. To that the reply is made by interjection, " But the area under cultivation has decreased."

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - So it has.

Senator EARLE - Very probably, but those who are cultivating the land are still importing foreign machines. I have here figures showing that the values of importations of harvesters, &c, during the first ten months of the financial year 1920-21 were as follows :- July, 1920, £15,647; August, £44,966; September, £11,097; October, £29,413; November, £32,561; December, £171,179; January, 1921, £S,S32; February, £13,352; March, £5,472; and April, £3,327. For the ten months importations of machinery for the harvesting of Australia's crop were valued at £335,846. That money should have been expended among our own manufacturers.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then the duty is not high enough?

Senator EARLE - It is not.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - So that the Government have failed in their duty?

Senator EARLE - The honorable senator is always prepared to advance some reason in support of the Free Trade fallacy. We are not asking for total prohibition, but we say that the duties which have been operating do not prevent foreign machinery from coming into competition with local manufactures. That being so, the requested reduction, if made, would assist foreign manufacturers, to compete with and probably cripple our own in- 1 dustry.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - The honorable senator has been giving the figures as to importations of harvesters; but we are not dealing with harvesters.

Senator EARLE - Item ICI includes harvesters.

Senator Wilson - Only cane harvesters. The figures quoted by the honorable senator. are not applicable to the item.

Senator EARLE - I believe that they are. They relate to harvesters, mowers, &c.

Senator Wilson - Lawn mowers.

Senator EARLE - Agricultural and horticultural machinery are included in this item. The figures I have quoted show that the protection which the industry has enjoyed has not been sufficient to prevent the importation of considerable quantities of machinery. No evidence has been advanced to show that the duties are too high.

Senator Wilson - What sort of argument would cause the honorable senator to alter his views on this question?

Senator EARLE - A logical argument such as the honorable senator is not capable of advancing would certainly influence me, but. it is insufficient for him to claim that these duties are too high merely because specific instances have not been given showing that they are necessary to permit of the successful manufacture of this class of machinery in Australia. I am going to take the risk - if there is any risk - of voting for the duties as they stand, knowing that if they should prove, on inquiry by the Tariff Board, to be higher than is necessary, they can be altered later on, whereas, their reduction now might cripple a flourishing industry, and leave us with empty factories.

Senator Lynch - What percentage of agricultural implements used in this country is made here?

Senator EARLE - A very considerable percentage. The honorable senator probably has the figures at hand.

Senator Lynch - About 75 per cent. That is the "red ruin" with which manufacturers have been faced under the old Tariff!

Senator EARLE - But the cost of producing &h raw materials of this industry i3 increasing.


Senator EARLE - Because of higher wages. The cost of the labour involved in producing the raw materials is much greater than it was in 1913 or 1914. In order that Australian workmen engaged in the primary industries producing the raw material of our agricultural machinery makers might retain the high standard of living that we desire always to prevail here, we have protected them against importations from abroad. It is obvious, therefore, that it is necessary to raise a high barrier against importations of machinery in order that the local manufacturers who now have to pay higher prices for their raw material may carry on their industry with success. Under the old Tariff, their raw material was practically free, and to ask the manufacturers, now that duties have been imposed on their raw material, to carry on under the old Tariff would mean, if not a step towards banishing the industry as a whole, at least an obstacle against its extension. I do not want to see that. I am a strong Protectionist. I want Australia to be self-contained. My hope is that later on we shall not only be making all that we require in this respect, but exporting to other countries. I want Australia to discontinue the old system of sending her raw materials to other countries, so that people there might become wealthy in converting those raw materials into finished articles for our use. We should take advantage of our opportunities, and we can do so only under a Protective policy. Senator Thomas end Senator Gardiner are quite consistent. They are Free Traders; but those who profess to be Protectionists are not consistent when they advocate a reduction of duties on different items where they think their constituents will approve of such? action.

Senator Wilson - We should deal with every item on its- merits.

Senator EARLE - During the Tariff debate, we have had several examples of the provincialism of some honorable senators. They display unlimited hostility to duties designed to protect industries that are not carried on in the States which they represent, but are most powerful advocates of the fullest measure of protection for industries conducted in their own States.

Senator Wilson - In this case we are dealing with an industry which is carried on in all the States.

Senator EARLE - Possibly the manufacture of agricultural machinery is not carried on extensively in South Australia, nor in the State represented by the honorable senator who has submitted this request, but I hope to see all the States manufacturing the requirements of the Commonwealth. We have only a small agricultural machinery factory in Tasmania, so that the item does not particularly affect -the State which I represent, but 1 hope to see the day when, in common with the other States, it will be a very large manufacturer of all classes of machinery required in the Commonwealth. I do not think I need say more cn the subject; but I hope that on this question honorable senators will give a vote that is consistent with their ordinary public attitude, and that if they are Protectionists, they will support the retention of the duties as set out in the item.

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

Suggest corrections