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Wednesday, 24 August 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) . - I am glad the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) has fully explained why these apparently heavy duties have been proposed.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Relatively they are on the same scale as the others in this part of the Tariff.

Senator PAYNE -Slightly higher. I have listened to what u has been said against the action of the Government in entering into an agreement with the Sunshine Harvester Company in regard to its output, on which certain protection wa9 suggested by the Government. The Minister has clearly shown that the Government made no such promise, and that the firm which has undertaken the work of manufacturing these implements, which are so necessary for the primary producers, took a certain amount of risk when it accepted the responsibility of formulating its plans, and erecting the necessary additional buildings in order to provide the extra output. I desire to deal with every item in the schedule on its merits, and although I have been found supporting Senator Lynch and others in their efforts to secure a slight reduction, on the appliances used by primary producers, we have to look on this particular item and consider what our liabilities are in the arrangements made, not only for the benefit of those engaged in manufacturing, but also for the benefit of the primary producers. Until recently, the machines manufactured so successfully by the Sunshine Harvester Company were not produced in Australia; and when the company was approached by the Minister for Repatriation he was actuated by a desire to see if an industry successfully established could be greatly extended, if employment could be found for large numbers of returned soldiers, and if the primary producers might have the assistance of a firm which could immediately supply the duplicate parts required. "What has been the result of the operations up to date? Has the undertaking given by the Government to recommend to Parliament a special duty been abused by the firm as regards prices? A lot of figures have been quoted, but I wish to deal with those submitted by Senator Gardiner, who has clearly shown that before these duties became operative the price of the imported article was £103, but, immediately the duties were imposed, it was increased to £131.

Senator Lynch - For the 6-ft. machine?

Senator PAYNE - Yes. Duty had not been paid on the great bulk of these machines, and they were imported in large quantities under the old Tariff, as has been shown by the figures stated 'by the Minister. Notwithstanding this, immediately the duties came into operation the price was increased by £28.

Senator GARDINER - They gave notice in their list that they would increase the price six months later.

Senator PAYNE - In connexion with the manufacture of the local article, I am pleased to say that the machines turned out by the Sunshine Harvester Company have given excellent results.

Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to 8 p.m.

Senator PAYNE - The figures which I gave before the suspension of the sitting show that Messrs. H. V. McKay and Company have not taken advantage of the duties, but have acted fairly in regard to the engagement with the Government, as notwithstanding the fact that it had been notified by the importers that the price of a 6-ft. machine was to be raised to £131, the Australian product was sold at £95, the consequence being that the imported machine was brought down to £98. I now suggest that the Committee should be loyal to the Minister who negotiated the arrangement, subject, as it was, to the acceptance of Parliament. When this same item was being discussed in another place the whole of the controversy concerning the heavy rates of duty occurred before the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) had had an opportunity to speak. After he had made his statement there was no further criticism, and the item was agreed to without division. That i3 significant. Obviously, another place accepted the Minister's utterance as a fair one. The Committee should do the same. As for my personal line of conduct, I may say that when I feel that a Tariff is about to be imposed which will inflict hardship upon users of the commodity affected, and in regard to the production of which lower rates of duties will still adequately protect and encourage the manufacturer, I am prepared every time to champion the interests of the consumer. In the present instance, however, the duties are to become operative under an arrangement which was made subject to the acceptance of the Federal Legislature. In the circumstances, I intend to support the "request moved by the Minister.

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