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Thursday, 17 November 1921

Senator ELLIOTT (Victoria) - With respect to the argument that the duty on the raw material does not affect the duty on wire, because the raw material is produced here,, it should be borne in mind that the duty imposed on the raw material was considered a fair thing in the interests of the producers in this country in view of the higher wages that have to be paid here, and the expense of establishing the industry as a going, concern. Whether the maker of wire gets his raw material from local manufacturers or imports it, he has to pay about the same price for it. Consequently he is in a most unfortunate position unless he has increased protection for his particular industry, because outside manufacturers will be able to get the raw material at a lower cost, manufacture the wire and export it to Aus tralia, paying only the same rate of duty as the local manufacturer has to pay if he imports his material rather than depend upon the local product. Asthe Minister pointed out, it is essential that increased given to all those engaged in these more advanced secondary industries because of the extra labour employed. During the war the importation of wire absolutely ceased, with the result that our farmers were in a desperate position. The Government then appealed to Australian manufacturers to establish these industries. Some firms deliberately stipulated that they should have some measure of protection after the war. Relying upon the promises of the Government, they established the industry at enormous cost, because they were forced to purchase the machinery 'at exorbitant prices at a very difficult time of our history. Now that they have lost the artificial protection which the war gave them, they are looking to the Government to fulfil their promise in order that their industry may not be ruined and their capital lost. In the circumstances, is it fair that we should press the request?

Senator Drake-Brockman - But should we not have some consideration for the primary producers who have to buy this wire?

Senator ELLIOTT - During the war the farmer was in a very bad way owing to the cessation of importations- of wire.

Senator Drake-Brockman - He is now in a bad way.

Senator ELLIOTT - In order to do the best possible in the circumstances for the farmer, the Government induced certain manufacturers to establish, the industry. If, now, they are to be treated unfairly, it would be idle to expect others to establish new industries in similar circumstances. Therefore I intend to support the Government.

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