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Wednesday, 24 August 1921

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable gentleman may think my statement not in accordance with facts as known to him, but I can assure him that it is in accordance with facts as known to me. Our range of knowledge may differ, but I think he will agree with me that the principle of postponing duties ought not to be put into operation in this schedule on the off-chance of a manufacturer embarking on an enterprise under the protection afforded.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Nobody asks the Minister to do that. I have here a definite letter from the company to the Minister for Trade and Customs.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I submit that is not sufficient, and that the Minister, after full inquiry, must take the responsibility of saying whether he is satisfied with any assurance that may be given. No one will pretend that we ought to accept without question a statement of this kind from an applicant forassistance by means of Tariff protection. If the company mentioned by Senator Pratten is prepared to manufacture these articles, the proposal should be submitted for the consideration of the Minister with any further information that may be available. ' I understand that Mr. Massy Greene had an application of this kind before him. It is clear that he is favorable to the principle where the facts justify its adoption, as evidenced by the fact that the principle of postponing duties is to be found elsewhere in the Tariff. Why in this. case he turned the request down I am unable to say, but evidently he was not satisfied with the assurances given.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the Minister quite sure that Mr. Massy Greene did turn down the proposal ?.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I have the assurance of a responsible officer of his Department that the Minister considered the proposal made by this company, and although favorable to the principle of postponing duties, he could not adopt it in this case. In view of his decision, I cannot accept Senator Pratten's request. I am sure Senator Pratten himself does not want to see the principle introduced unless there is a reasonable chance of a new industry being established. I suggest that it will be competent for him, or those for whom he is speaking, to ascertain what the Minister has to say, and for the company to supply additional assurances, which may have the effect of satisfying the Minister. It will be some time before we shall see the last of this Tariff, and therefore there will be ample opportunity to do as I suggest. If the Minister, after the consideration of the request, supported by additional information, thinks there is sufficient evidence to justify the adoption of the principle of postponing duties in respect of this item, steps may be taken either to recommit the item, or to agree to an addition to the schedule. In the circumstances, I ask the Committee not to adopt the principle of postponing duties without in some way or other being satisfied that they would have the desired effect. Otherwise we are accepting the off-chance of something happening, and subjecting the people of Australia to the payment of heavy revenue duties in the hope that some one may come along to supply these articles.

Senator Lynch - Then the Government will be prepared to recommit the item?

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