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Wednesday, 24 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I do not like .doing so, but I must take exception to misleading prices being supplied to the Minister. In dealing with these items, we should be careful to deal only with facts. Prices ought not to be collected with a view to making the duties proposed by the Government appear more favorable than they should appear. I propose to quote prices from Massey-Harris Limited, Australian branch, revised price list, dated 19th July, 1920, for Western Australia.

Senator Pearce - The prices I have quoted are according to the different firms' declarations at the Customs House.

Senator GARDINER - I intend to quote prices which it will be admitted were not prepared with a view to the consideration of this Tariff. The list is prefaced by the statement -

Prices in this list become effective on and after 19th Jury, 1920, and all previous prices for such machines are now withdrawn. No orders at variance with the prices and terms herein will be considered after that date. Before the war, reapers, binders, mowers and hay-rakes were admitted into the Commonwealth free of Customs duty. Tn 1914, they were made dutiable under a war Tariff. In 1920, Tariff duties on these machines and on reapers and threshers imported during the present year have been doubled. After 1st January, 1921, Customs duties collectible on reapers, binders, mowers, and rakes increased 50 per cent., and reapers and threshers 44 per cent., to cover which the " red prices " have been provided.

I shall refer to the red prices as well as to the others.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Some honorable senators argue that the imposition of a duty lowei'3 the price; but, of course, that is madness.

Senator GARDINER - Honorable senators must bear in mind that I am proposing to quote from a price-list issued by a business firm in the hope of securing customers. These are not prices issued to affect a Tariff. For machines delivered and settled for not later than 31st December, I find the following prices quoted : -

Massey-Harris reaper and binder, 5-ft. cut, sheaf carrier, and transport trucks: - A terms £101, B_ terms £106 10s., C terms £112, with £4 discount for cash.

Now, the "red figures," which refer to prices for machines delivered after the 1st of January, 1921, are for the same machine : - A terms, £128 ; B terms, £135 ; and C terms, £142, with £5 discount for cash.

Senator Duncan - What about the price of the 6-ft. machine?

Senator GARDINER - These are the prices according to this list -

Massey-Harris reaper and binder, 6-ft. cut, sheaf carrier and transport truck: - A terms, £103, B terms £108 10s., and C terms £114.

For this machine delivered after the 1st January. 1920, the prices quoted are: - A terms'. £131; B terms, £138; and C terms, £146. I want honorable senators to note the difference in the prices due to the introduction of this Tariff. They go up in the case of this machine £28 for sales under A terms, £30 for sales under B terms, and £32 for sales under C terms. The discount is £4 and £5 respectively.

Senator Bolton - They did not know that they were being made here then.

Senator Pearce - Is the honorable senator aware that, as soon as Mr. McKay announced his price of £95, the firm to which the honorable senator refers forthwith brought its price down from £130 to £98?

Senator Wilson - That is so.

Senator GARDINER - I quote further from this list -

Massey-Harris reaper and binder, S-ft. cut, sheaf currier, transport truck, clear carriage, with four-horse hitch: - A terms £121, B terms £127 10s., and C. terms £134.

For these machines, delivered after 1st January, 1921, the firm quotes: - A terms £.151, B terms £159, and C terms £167. I again ask honorable senators to note the difference in price due to the introduction of the Tariff. A machine which could be purchased for £121 under A terms before the introduction of the Tariff, cost £151 after its introduction. The machine costing under B terms £127 10s. was raised in price to £159, and the machine costing £134 under 0 terms before the introduction of the Tariff was raised to £167 after its introduction. This list of prices is not something prepared for the Senate, but a list issued for the customers of the firm.

Senator Pearce - Why did they cut their prices for one machine down to £98 when they had previously charged £130 for it?

Senator GARDINER - Is the price of that machine down to £9S now?

Senator Pearce - Yes. They cut the price down as soon as Mr. McKay said he was prepared to sell at £95.

Senator GARDINER - All the figures I have quoted during the discussion of the schedule have been taken from the authentic price-lists of the various firms, and if any one can supply me with a later price-list giving other figures I shall be prepared to admit that the figures I have quoted are not reliable. I have endeavoured to secure the very latest figures, and I have quoted these prices to lot honorable senators know what the duties imposed by this Tariff mean to the primary producer.

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