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Thursday, 25 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I resumed my seat in order to give Senator Payne an opportunity to explain and withdraw his remarks in reference to myself, but he has now added another charge: That I have imputed dishonesty to a reputable business man. I have stated nothing but facts relating to the exorbitant prices charged for horseshoe nails. These duties were increased in another place, possibly on a suggestion madeby a member and accepted by the Government. The whole question is -whether the taxpayers generally, many of whom never use horseshoe nails, are to be taxed in order to establish this industry. It is an old Protectionist argument that the taxpayers generally may be taxed for such a purpose; but we are told that this industry has been in existence for forty years, and surely it cannot be regarded as an " infant " ! Senator Payne talks of the enormous cost of the raw material; but, according to the Minister's statement, 25-lb. boxes of nails were coming in at 18s. What did a 25-lb. box fetch during war time? I ask Senator Payne to produce the figures. There has been, no exorbitant increase in the cost of the raw material, which came in at the price the Minister quoted, somewhere under 9d. a lb., while, if my memory is right, nails during the war period were sold at 2s. 9d. per lb. It is now proposed to give these manufacturers even more profit by making the users of horseshoe nails pay higher prices for the rest of their lives.

Senator Payne - The honorable' senator is wrong again in the matter of prices.

Senator GARDINER - Then I invite the honorable senator to give what he says are- the true figures.

Senator Payne - For the first two years of the war the price was exactly the same as it had been for six' years prior to the war.

Senator GARDINER - What was the subsequent price?

Senator Payne - The honorable senator said that the price was exorbitant during the whole of the war period. The price was ls. 2d. per lb. in 1919.

Senator GARDINER - If the honorable senator is challenging the truth of my statements, why will he not give me the whole of the particulars placed in his possession by his friends, the manufacturers? He has indicated the price for the first two years of the war, and then he leaves a significant gap by quoting the figure for 1919. The increase of rates of wages during the war period was a mere nothing. Wages are not high even to-day, taking into consideration the high cost of living.

Senator Payne - Are they not higher than ten years ago?

Senator GARDINER - In proportion to the purchasing power of money, rates of pay are not as high. Who will be . expected to pay the duties on horseshoe nails in order to keep the factories going? Manufacturers proclaim their business inability by asking for higher Protective duties in order that they may carry on profitably. Who pays for the added protection placed upon horseshoe nails? Eventually, and by devious means, every individual in the community.

Request negatived.

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