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Wednesday, 24 August 1921

Senator PLAIN (Victoria) . - I desire to congratulate the Australian firms who are able to manufacture these implements successfully. I am, however, greatly concerned about the difficulties with which producers are likely to be confronted during >the ensuing harvest. We have the prospect of a very bountiful harvest, and during the last two or three years the number of our producers has been added to by many hundreds of new farmers. These will all require 'binders, at least, and if it is proposed at this juncture to cut off the importation of binders I should like the Minister in charge of the Bill to assure us that sufficient binders to meet Australian requirements will be manufactured here.

Senator Pearce - The Australian requirements are approximately 5,000 per annum. I understand that Mr. McKay is making preparations to turn out 3,000, and this number will be in addition to those turned out by other manufacturers.

Senator PLAIN - If McKay can turn out 3,000 of these machines this year, that will be a magnificent effort to meet Australian requirements.

Senator Earle - I am given to understand that McKay Bros, have undertaken to supply the total requirements of Australia for these machines.

Senator PLAIN - I hope that the Minister will make sure that Australian requirements can be met by the local manufacturers. It is of no use for Mr. McKay to inform the Minister that he thinks he will be able to meet Australian requirements if new farmers, many of whom are returned soldiers, find, when they come to cut their first crop, which means everything to them, that they cannot obtain a binder unless by paying for it considerably more than is asked for the McKay machine at the present time.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - These machines will be wanted in a month's time.

Senator PLAIN - In some portions of Victoria they will have to be preparing for the harvest in a month's time; and I question whether Mr. McKay or any other Australian manufacturer can turn out 2,000 or 3,000 of these machines in time to meet the requirements of our soldier settlers. It appears to me that, in respect of some number of machines between 2,000 and 6,000, the buyers may be penalized because of the conditions which the Tariff will impose upon them.

Senator Earle - The honorable senator has jumped up the total number required by 1,000.

Senator Pearce - In addition to the number that Mr. McKay can supply, the honorable senator should not forget what I said to the effect that the importers have filled up their warehouses with imported machines.

Senator PLAIN - I have not forgotten that statement. Senator Earle is right in saying that I have jumped up the total number required by 1,000, and that is because I regard the Minister's estimate of 5,000 as being far from accurate. There must be a great development in the manufacture of these implements throughout Australia before our requirements can be met locally, as I believe that the Victorian Government alone has settled about 4,000 soldiers on the land.

Senator Earle - Each man will not require a reaper and binder.

Senator PLAIN - Every man who takes up wheat-growing land must have a reaper and binder, otherwise he must wait until his neighbour has taken his crop off, and frequently, by that time, his own crop will be too ripe.

Senator Wilson - Or else it may be destroyed by a thunder-storm.

Senator PLAIN - Anything might happen.

Senator Pearce - Last year the importations of these machines were six times greater than in the previous year.

Senator PLAIN - That is not a very covincing statement, because the previous season was a drought year, and we had no shipping. The statement merely covers up facts which I demand shall be made known to this Committee beforewe deal with this sub-item.

Senator Pearce - I am prepared to quote any year you like to mention. I have the information here, and I can give the figures.

Senator PLAIN - The three previous years were anything but satisfactory from the producers' point of view. If the Minister can convince the Committee that there are enough reapers and binders in the Commonwealth to meet all demands I shall certainly shorten my argument.

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