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Thursday, 25 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - Sub-item d relates to horseshoe nails, and the duty proposed by the Government on British importations was increased in another place from 8s. 6d. to 12s. per cwt. I do not know if horseshoe nails are being manufactured in Australia.

Senator FAIRBAIRN (VICTORIA) - Yes. One big factory was established when the duty was 14s.

Senator GARDINER - I am glad to have that information, because I have personal knowledge concerning the in crease in prices during the war period, and if Australian firms are manufacturing this commodity they fleeced theusers to their utmost capacity during the period Ihave mentioned. I understand that a factory was established in Victoria under a high Protective Tariff, and, therefore, the money contributed by the people in Victoria and other States has enabled manufacturers to charge unreasonable prices because there has been no competition from outside. It is true that there have been importations from Sweden ; but it was the absence of freights and the interruption of industries owing to the war that was responsible for importations ceasing, and not the Tariff. If I had a pre-war price list from which to quote, I would show how excessive were the charges for horseshoe nails during the war period. There was no great increase in the cost of production. All that happened was that the overseas competitors were cut out of the market, and then the local manufacturer took the last penny out of those whoused his nails. I invite honorable senators to produce pricelists covering the period 1915 to 1920, and to compare them with pre-war prices.

Senator Wilson - There was an increase during the war in manufacturers' costs, but it was not so great as to justify the increased price charged for the nails.

Senator GARDINER - I am glad to have that statement from Senator Wilson. When we remember that it is the Australian taxpayers who are called upon to establish and maintain these industries, there is reason tocomplain when extortionate prices are charged by local manufacturers.

Senatorde Largie. - Has the honorable senator seen Pender and Company's published price-list for horseshoe nails?

Senator GARDINER - I have not seen it. I should be glad to obtain lists to enable me to compare present prices with pre-war prices.

Senator de Largie - Pender's list, the honorable senator will see, gives some idea of prices at the present time.

Senator GARDINER - I find that, according to the list handed to me, no orders are booked for less than one box, but new customers may be supplied with a sample box of four sizes. I am inclined to send for a sample box of sizes 5, 6, 7 and 8.

I note that the prices set out in this list for 1920 are at least double the pre-war prices. I see that the price set down for size 6 is8s. 6d., and I venture to say that during the war the price was nearer 32s. I again invite honorable senators to compare present prices with pre-war prices as these manuf acturers are now dealing with the people of Australia.

Senator Senior - That is a mistake; they are not.

Senator GARDINER - I say that this Customs Tariff Bill represents a document in which the people of Australia agree for the future to pay more for horseshoe nails than they need pay in order to enable local manufacturers to produce these articles, and be freed from outside competition.

Senator Senior - The Tariff does not free them.

Senator GARDINER - If so, it is because they have not yet reached such a stage of production as to be in a position to supply the whole of the Australian requirements, or if they have reached that stage they are not producing an article which can compete with the imported article. I know one intelligent shoesmith who uses Swedish nails, and swears by them.

Senator Payne - Does the honorable senator say that the Australian horseshoe nails are not of a good quality?

Senator GARDINER - No, and I hope I did not convey such an impression, I said that one shoe-smith informed me that he prefers to use Swedish nails. He considers them the best, but that may be a matter of merely personal preference.

SenatorFairbairn. - Pender makes all the nails used for shoeing racehorses.

Senator GARDINER - Nails used in fastening plates on powerful horses that are galloped over hard turf at a high rate of speed are subjected to considerable strain, and their use in this way is a high test of their quality. I gladly accept Senator Fairbairn's statement that this firm turns out what must be an excellent article. The firm, I find, manufactures horse rasps. Trusting to my memory I say that the pre-war price for an ordinary small 14-in. horse rasp was about 71/2d., and the war price was about 3s. 6d. I mention that to enable honorable senators to realize what Australian firms, whose industries have been brought into existence and maintained by Australian taxpayers, did during war time.

Senator Senior - The honorable senator must know that he could not have purchased a rasp for 7½d. prior to the war.

Senator GARDINER - If Senator Senior is prepared to give me an order for two new rasps of the size and description indicated, I will bring them over and let him have them for 6d. each, and I shall make a profit out of the transaction. There must be fair dealing between the manufacturers and the public. If any honorable senator has any doubt as to what has taken place, I invite him to go into any of the warehouses and obtain their war-time price-lists. During the war the cost of shoeing a horse increased, because of the advance in the cost of material to the blacksmith, from 6s. to about 10s. These industry promoters, who want the public to keep them going by means of Customs duties, must not run away with the impression that their action during war time passed unnoticed.

Senator Wilson - You know that shoeing smith's wages were nearly doubled during the war.

Senator GARDINER - No. Shoeing smiths, in pre-war days, were getting 10s. or 12s. per day. If wages rose during the war to 15s. per day, that was, perhaps, the maximum. It is of no use considering individual cases. I am as anxious as any one to see local industries well established in this country; but I notice how busy the experts in the business are in supplying information to honorable senators to facilitate the passing of these high duties. I desire to conserve the interests of the Australian workmen; and my objection to this Tariff is that it will not do what it is supposed to do. Why not give the nail manufacturers a bounty on production?

Senator Senior - Do you know how long the industry has been established here ?

Senator GARDINER - Many years, probably.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - There was a State duty on this item, and the manufacturers must, therefore, have been producing prior to Federation.

Senator GARDINER - I have no doubt of that, because Victoria has had

Protective duties for the past forty or fifty years.1

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