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Wednesday, 24 August 1921

Senator SENIOR (South Australia) . - It seems to me that this subitem covers a most important class of machinery. In connexion with some drainage works in South Australia, a machine was imported from the United States of America for the special purpose of excavating very large drains, with the result that the shifting of soil - which had previously cost 2s. 6d. per yard - was carried out at a cost of 9d. This, of course, made a marvellous difference in the cost of the work ; and, further, it enabled the land to be settled without being loaded with heavy charges.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - This is almost a Free Trade speech!

Senator SENIOR - I really wish that Senator Thomas would show some wisdom in dealing with these matters. I am not arguing from a Free Trade point of view, hut merely pointing out work done by a machine that is not made in Australia, and is essential in the development of the country. Is it wise to impose heavy charges in the case of machines which are guarded by patent rights, and thus increase their price"? Another smaller type of excavating machine was imported, and is now largely used in the making of channels for drain pipes in the cities ; and this, too, enables the work to be done at a much cheaper rate. In the face of these facts, is it wise to increase the price of such appliances, unless we are absolutely sure they can be reasonably made in Australia? If they can be made here, then we are justified in protecting Australian industry. So far, we have had no evidence to justify the increase of the protection; but if such evidence is forthcoming, I should 'be prepared to consider it.

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