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Wednesday, 24 August 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - I move-

That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (b), general, 40 per cent.

The original proposal in this sub-item was to allow reapers andbinders infree from Great Britain, and to place an impost of 5 per cent. in the intermediate Tariff, and 10 per cent. in the general Tariff. We have been told that these duties have been imposed as a result of some arrangement entered into between this Government and a Victorian firm, and the Minister has been good enough to say that the arrangement does not in any way tie the hands of Parliament. It is quite clear, therefore, that we have some small modicum of freedom left, and that we may alter the Tariff up or down. I suppose that if I moved to make the duty 55 per cent., the firm concerned would not be disappointed; but it is our duty, at this eleventh hour, to so alter the Tariff in this sub-item as to make it correspond with the duty imposed on other agricultural machinery. There is no essential difference between a reaper and binder and a harvester, and as the Committee has already agreed to a duty of 35 per cent, on harvesters I am asking for a reduction of 5 per cent, in this item, not because I am satisfied with the concession, but because I think it is the only reduction possible in this present constitution, of the Committee. These machines may be obtained at a very moderate cost in other parts of the world, notably Canada, where they are manufactured. Figures supplied by the MasseyHarris Company show that the price of a 5-ft. reaper and binder in Canada is £60 ; in New Zealand, £95; and in Australia, £103. The 6-ft.' machine is £61 in Canada, £97 in New Zealand, and £105 in Australia; while the 8-ft. machine prices are £65, £115, and £125 respectively. The increase on the Canadian prices is 60 per cent, for the 5-ft. machine, well over 60 per cent, for the 6-ft. machine, and nearly 100 per cent, for the 8-ft. machine. ' The Canadian farmer gets his reaper and binder at practically half the cost to the Australian farmer, although the products of both countries compete on equal terms in the world's markets. If we determine to shut out completely this trade with the United States of America and Canada it is possible that we shall be making a rod for our own backs later on. Do honorable senators imagine that Canada and the United States of America will stand still while we are putting on Tariff duties to shut out their manufactures ? We have heard some talk in this chamber quite recently about the action of the Government of the United States of America in imposing a duty on wool. As a matter of fact, the Government of that country is merely following our example for the purpose of protecting its wool industry ; but incidentally it is lessening the area for the sale of our product. It would be much more to our advantage to have an American competitor in the market in these things, and honorable senators would be well advised if they refused to shut out trade with Canada and the United States of America. Canada is a sister Dominion, and surely, a Tariff of 40 per cent., in addition to the natural protection of about 45 per cent., is sufficient for Australian operatives in this industrial field. The Canadian manufacturer does not by any means obtain all his raw material within Canadian boundaries. The metal required for the manufacture of reapers and binders that may be seen on farms all over Australia, is dug from the hills at Pittsburg, hauled 800 miles over the railway to the Massey-Harris implement works in Canada, and pays duty on the frontier. We now propose to shut down on this, trade with our sister Dominion. Surely this is a frank confession to the world of semi-decadence in the physical and moral fibre of the Australian workman. Even the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) will admit this. I am sure that if he voiced his. convictions now, as he did during the debates on the 1908 Tariff, he would set the very carpets of this chamber floor on fire with his burning eloquence.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is that the time when you were a Protectionist ?

Senator LYNCH - I voted for the duties then imposed - not the extraordinary Tariff before this Committee. The plea that this impost is for the protection of an infant industry does not apply, because the works are already established. I want to see them prosper, but I do not want H. V. McKay to entertain the thought that he may grow inordinately rich at the expense of the primary producers by . means of these unnecessarily high duties. I want him to get a fair reward for his enterprise. He started in a humble way, and by virtue of his industry and sound business qualities, and aided by the men who are working with him, he has done very well indeed. He is now a director of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company. I wish him good luck; but, as I have already said, I do not wish to see him grow over rich at the expense of those who come from far afield to buy his implements. There is no call for this high protection, because" he built up the industry on duties which are lower than are now proposed. Therefore I ask the Committee to agree to the reduction.

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