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Tuesday, 23 August 1921

Senator BOLTON (Victoria) .- I am as much concerned about the welfare of the farmer as any other member of this Committee j but I .am "dead" against the proposal to alter the general Tariff. There are 15,000 factories in Australia, employing about 380,000 workmen. These latter provide the best possible market for the Australian farmer. In any case, what will a reduction of 5 per cent, on the general Tariff do for the man on the .land ? Senator Lynch complains that our manufacturers are not in an impoverished condition. Does he not want to see them doing well ? Does Australia wish to see them so hard up that they cannot carry on? Every one desires Australian industries to be and remain prosperous. The Minister for Defence stated that there had been a reduction in activities'. Speaking for the various engineering and foundry works, I am in a position to state that the number of factories increased from 919 in 1913 to more than 1,000 in 1918. Although the number of men employed decreased from 26,000 in 1913 to 23,000 in 19 IS, manufacturers have increased the horse-power in their factories by over 100 per cent., because in 1913 it was 20,000, and in 191S it had increased to 44,000. The output increased from £8,000,000 in 1913 to £13,000,000 in 1918. The industry is one which should be encouraged, because the greater the number of men employed in this and other industries the better will be the market for the commodities the farmers produce.

Senator Lynch - All this happened under the old Tariff.

Senator Pearce - In war years, when there were no importations.

Senator BOLTON - There is an old saying that " the parson prays for all, the soldier fights for all, and the farmer pays for all." I think it is time that we began to consider the imposition of duties in a " give-and-take " manner, recognising that one section of the community is to a large extent dependent on the other. The interests of the manufacturer and the primary producer are closely allied. I would have supported Senator Wilson in his request to reduce the British preferential rate, in a desire to stimulate the" workers of this community to greater activity, and get them to realize their responsibilities in the strenuous times confronting lis. Who saved France after the Franco-Prussian War? It was the workers of France. And it is the workers of Germany who are assisting that country to become re-established after the recent great war. We should appeal to the workers of Australia to have regard to the great difficulties that are facing us, and if they do that they will increase their efficiency, with the result that our manufactures will increase and prices will be more reasonable to the consumers. Much of the discussion on the Tariff has a more direct connexion with the industrial rather 'than the fiscal aspect. I am opposed to the proposal to interfere with the general Tariff, but will support a modified request to reduce the British preferential and intermediate duties, because we should encourage trade with those with whom we have been closely associated in the past. The Australian soldiers fought for the Empire alongside the British soldiers, and I am sure Australian workmen are prepared to work in competition with British operatives. It has been said that there have been practically no importations of implements from Great Britain; but I understand that £S,500 worth was imported last year as compared with , £2,999 worth from Canada, and if we made a slight reduction in the British preferential rate, it might be the means of compelling the Australian workers to speed up a little.

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