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Wednesday, 24 August 1921

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) . - I do hot think the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) is justified in hurrying for a division at this juncture, because, if Senator Gardiner had not asked why coal-cutting machines are admitted free, it was my intention to do so. The schedule shows that the duties which prevailed until 15th June of this year were, British, 27£ per cent. ; intermediate, 35 per cent. ; and general, 40 per cent., when they were made, British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent. ; and general, 10 per cent. That requires some explanation. My view in regard to the whole of these items connected with iron and steel is that we have not to primarily consider the immediate cheapness of any machine, but its manufacture in connexion with the security of this continent. As Senator Henderson has said, we have an abundance of coal in the Commonwealth, and the whole of his argument was addressed to the position in which our colliery proprietors are placed in competing with the colliery proprietors in other parts of the world.

Senator Wilson - The same as in connexion with every other industry.

Senator KEATING - Exactly. In the event of war it would be our duty to develop our coal deposits to the utmost extent, and if during a period of war we had to depend on outside sources for the supply of modern machinery, we should be in a pitiable position. Duties should be imposed on' these machines in such a way that we would promote their production in the Commonwealth in the interests of our national life and national security. A Tariff such as this should have for its object the stimulation of production of this character. What is the use of saying that we have to depend upon outside countries because we have not manufactured any of these machines. Possibly we have not. Let us start to make them. What is the object of a. Protective Tariff? ' This is a vitally national immediate necessity. If we are to get the best out of our enormous coal deposits we should be in a position to manufacture our own coal-cutting machines, and the fact that we have extensive and valuable seams should be an incentive. I am prepared to support Senator Lynch in' his request, and would even go as far to reimpose "the duties which the Government originally brought down.

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