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Tuesday, 23 August 1921

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia) . - This item calls for some explanation on the part of the Minister. I find it difficult to understand why the implements and machinery covered by items 161 and 162 should be dutiable at a lower rate than those covered by item 163a, and I should like to hear the official explanation of this apparent inconsistency. Those things covered by the item now before us are essential to the early pioneer on the land. Throughout this debate I have put up a plea for the Australian pioneer - the man for whom the Committee should have especial consideration. I am glad to bay, by the way, that there are great signs of improvement in that regard on the part of the Committee. Honorable senators, I gratefully acknowledge, are now displaying for the man on the land a consideration of which I rather despaired in the earlier part of the Tariff debate. One of the arch-priests of High Protection is Senator Earle, who has suggested that I rely perhaps a little too much on my imagination.

Senator Earle - That was only by way of a mild retort.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - I suggest to that honorable senator that imagination is one of the greatest essentials of statesmanship. A man who doc3 not possess some quality of imagination can never vision what is going to happen in this great Commonwealth.

Senator Earle - But it is not wise to rely on one's imagination for one's facts.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - If the honorable senator desires a few facts, I invite him, in the first place, to remember the immense load of debt that we have contracted in connexion with the war. How are we going to pay off that immense debt unless we have an increased population and increased production ?

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - We can pay it off only by means of our exports.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - The honorable senator has anticipated me. It can be paid off only by means of our exports. We cannot get away from the fact that our primary industries are our principal source of production. The wealth produced by them amounts, I think, to £223,000,000 per annum., as compared with £75,000,000 of wealth produced by our secondary industries, and I remind the Committee that the greater part of that £75,000,000 is paid for by the primary producers. That point must not be overlooked. Therefore we come back to the wealth created by the primary producers of Australia, who, I contend, should have first consideration in this Tariff, for if we do not get more population into this immense continent, how are we going to face the future? f ask Senator Earle to allow his imagination a little play, instead of presenting us with mundane statements based on false premises. Population is the first essential for the future development of Australia. If we make life easier for our pioneers one-half of our difficulties will be removed. I was led into this debate by Senator Earle's extraordinary assertion, and I want some explanation from the Minister concerning the remarkable distinction in the duties between the requirements for those producers who may be regarded as comparatively settled on the land and the needs of the real pioneers. I refer particularly to the very heavy duty, 27½ per cent. British, 25 per cent, intermediate, and 40 per cent, general, on the stump-jump plough, which is the first implement to be used by pioneer farmers.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Under the old Tariff the duty was much lower.

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