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Tuesday, 23 August 1921

Senator EARLE (Tasmania) . - Senator Lynch's chief argument has been that under the previously existing Tariff we have been producing practically all the agricultural implements and machinery that we require. Since I last spoke I found in my box a copy of the Importers and Exporters Journal for Australia,, of 20th August, 1921. This is not a Protectionist journal. It is merely concerned with trade, and is consequently not biased. It is in favour of the exporter and importer rather than of the manufacturer. I find from this journal that during the month of June of this year Australia imported machines and machinery to the value of £437,572.

Senator Payne - -Is that agricultural machinery?

Senator EARLE - No. That is the value of the importations of all machinery for the month of June of this year. New South Wales imported machinery to the value of £123,396; Victoria, £198,781; Queensland, £24,070; South Australia, £43,552; Western Australia, £45,561; Tasmania, £2,212; or a total for the one month of £437,572. In addition, manufactures of metals were imported into the Commonwealth to the value of £755,911 in the same month. This was money going out of the Commonwealth which should have been earned within Australia, and would have assisted to build up our prosperity.

Senator Elliott - And in giving work to our own people.

Senator EARLE - It should have been spent in giving work to our own people.

Senator Gardiner - Did not our own people find work to earn the money to pay for those imports?

Senator EARLE - They did so only in the exercise of their labour in the production of raw materials, which, at half their manufactured value, were sent to other countries to be manufactured. I thought it my duty to give these figures, which should appeal to honorable senators.

Senator Gardiner - How does the honorable senator know that all these machines could have been made here?

Senator EARLE - Possibly we could not have manufactured some of them, but I venture to say that the great majority of them could have been made here. It would be a surprise to me to hear that an appreciable portion of this enormous sum could not have been earned in Australia. During the period that we imported this nearly £500,000 worth of machinery, we exported only £3,000 worth. Is Senator Gardiner satisfied, in such circumstances, with the advance made by Australian manufacturers ? Honorable senators are going the right way to prevent the advancement of our manufacturing industries. I ask them to keep these facts iri mind and to avoid doing something which I am sure, as true Australians, they will subsequently regret. As to the figures quoted to-night by Senator Gardiner, showing that in Free Trade New Zealand agricultural machinery is cheaper than in Australia, I am still of the opinion that they were supplied to him to meet the exigencies of a certain set of circumstances. As a matter of fact, New Zealand at the present time is contemplating the imposition of duties on agricultural machinery, and those who export such machinery to that country would naturally be prepared to supply it for the present 'at a considerably cheaper rate than they have been doing. Their price-lists as quoted here on Friday last were higher than the up-to-date lists quoted here tonight. In every speech made in opposition to the duties proposed by the Government, an attempt has been made to show that every £1 paid by way df duty to protect an industry is added to the cost of the product of that industry to the user. I disagree with that view. If a duty is imposed for the purpose of building up an industry, the ultimate result is that the product of that industry becomes cheaper to the users.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - -Hut how long have they to wait?

Senator EARLE - Li dealing with questions of this kind, one has to use some common sense.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) -Brookman. - Or imagination.

Senator EARLE - No; I am afraid that the honorable senator relies on his imagination for most of his facts. My desire is that Australia shall manufacture all its requirements, and not depend on the foreigner, over whom we have no control, and who in certain circumstances may charge the users of his manufactures any prices he please. If honorable senators desire that imagination shall be given some scope, I ask them to imagine their own country manufacturing all these implements. If the prices become too high, we can adopt reasonable methods to curtail the exploitation of the people.

We can control those who are carrying on industries within our own borders, but we cannot control the foreign manufacturers.

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