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Thursday, 17 November 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - The request made by the Senate was for a reduction of 8s. per ton on common wire. The duties imposed are too high altogether, and it is about time the Senate came to its senses and made a severe cut. I do not hold myself responsible for the burdens which this Tariff has placed upon the primary producer. I agree that it is difficult now to make any reduction in the duties without disturbing the gradations of protection which it is thought desirable to preserve in the industry for the making of wire; but I remind honorable senators that the companies engaged in this business are also manufacturers of other descriptions of barbed wire and wire netting, which we shall touch upon later. Therefore, if a reduction be made in the duties on this item it could very well be spread over the other operations that are carried on under the same roof. It is about time that we took stock of our position, and showed some consideration for the men who have to buy this wire, especially in view of the tumbling prices for primary products all over the world, and particularly in this country. It is almost impossible for some men to expect to make ends meet for many years to come, without being called upon to suffer any injustice which this Tariff will inflict upon them. The Government and those responsible for the Tariff should be brought to their senses. I am not overstating the case when I say that a great number of our people who are engaged in primary production are in a most unfortunate position. The outlook for them is anything but hopeful. They will feel the burden of these duties very severely, and at the present time they are not in a position to stand any extra strain. Although the arithmetical structure of the Tariff may render it difficult to secure reductions in the duties, I think there is an obligation upon us to see that some measure of justice is extended to those who are engaged in the business of producing. The rates of duty upon pig iron, blooms slabs, angle iron, rod iron, and so on, are altogether too heavy; in view of the present outlook for the primary producer in this country. There are only two firms, and only one persistent firm -G. and C. Hoskins, of New South Wales - who have been constant appellants on the door-mat of the InterState Commission for higher duties. No other ironmaster in Australia has been so persistent as Mr. Hoskins. First he was out for a duty on the raw material, next on blooms and slabs, then on wrought iron, and, lastly, on wire-netting.

Senator Duncan - "When Mr. Hoskins was doing that he was the only manufacturer in Australia.

Senator LYNCH - He played his cards extremely well. He was the only man who turned up before the Royal Commission in response to a general invitation. The question was often asked in the Senate, "Where are the other applicants?" They did not come forward, because they did not want any duties. Mr. Hoskins, I understand, is well on the way to being a millionaire. Good luck to him so long as he gets his millions by fair means; but if he gets them by putting other people in the mud, and by making their lot harder, I object.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I think you are belittling the Broken Hill 'Company.

Senator Duncan - The Broken Hill Company had a representative at Parliament House during the whole time that the Tariff was going through.

Senator LYNCH - But the Broken Hill Company did not have a representative before the Inter-State Commission. I have placed on record my estimate of tho Broken Hill Company. The action of the company spoke volumes for them up to a certain point, but when they saw there was a complacent Government ready to shovel out excessive duties to all and sundry, I do not blame them for sending along a representative.' Mr. Delprat played an honorable role in that connexion. This Committee is not going to be influenced by Mr. Hoskins and the other gentlemen who come forward with the insane cry for more and still more protection. It seems to be very much like " flogging a dead horse " to say anything on the present occasion.

Senator Wilson - The Committee is going to stick to the duty of 44s.

Senator LYNCH - I hope so, too. Even at this eleventh hour I hope the Government will take cognisance of the false step that was made in bringing down a Tariff of this lop-sided character. Except for those who are producing the finer qualities of wool, there is a hard outlook for men engaged in rural industries: There is a pleasant outlook for the manufacturers in the city, and an easier outlook still for the men engaged in the secondary industries. The Government have been in a most enviable position. I have never heard of a Government piloting a Tariff through Parliament in more favorable circumstances, than those experienced by the present Government. When the Labour party would not follow them, the Country party did ; and when the Country party would not, the Labour party did. If it were not for the Labour party in the other Chamber, the Government would not have a ghost of a chance of carrying this excessively high Protectionist Tariff. The Labour party was there to pile on more and more duties.

Senator Gardiner - I do not think the honorable senator can apply that statement to this Chamber.

Senator LYNCH - Senator Gardiner is the one honorable exception that stands out conspicuously. Good luck to him! If ever there was a time when the "Government could paraphrase the. expression, "Thank God for the House of Lords!" that time is now. The Government can say, " Thank God for the Opposition!" Senator Gardiner stands out like Hercules of old in opposition to the bad example of his colleagues in the other House.

Senator Elliott - The policy of the National party is Protection.

Senator LYNCH - The mouthpiece of the National party, Mr. Hughes, is not my leader in Tariff matters, and never will be. It is very hard to know where he stands.

Senator Gardiner - The honorable senator is a Protectionist when Mr. Hughes is a Free Trader, and a Free Trader when "Mr. Hughes is a Protectionist.

Senator LYNCH - I stand now where I stood in 1907-8, with the exception that I am prepared to give a little extra Protection to those industries that want it, but I am not prepared to give the ultra, excessive, unasked-for degree of Protection provided in this Tariff.

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