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Wednesday, 9 June 1926


Senator DUNCAN (New South Wales) . - The request by Senator Barwell is one of the most surprising that has been placed before the committee.


Senator Ogden - One of the most sensible.


Senator DUNCAN - I do not think so. It will be agreed that the future prosperity of this country depends very largely on the way in which we develop the resources that will give us a sufficient supply of electrical energy, and the way in which we use that energy when it lias been produced. If we are to depend entirely upon overseas manufactures for our machinery we shall be in an unenviable position. Senator Ogden seems to be under the impression that America is the country that will supply Australia with its requirements in the way of electrical appliances; but I wish to point out that the competition to be feared by Australian manufacturers does not come from the United States of America. One of the leading electrical manufacturers has stated that if it were not for the American tariff European manufacturers would be able to land their goods in San Francisco and undersell the American product. Manufacturers in the United States of America pay such a high wage that the competition to be feared does not come from that country, but from low-wage European countries. I can assure Senator Ogden that it is over two years since any order for electrical generating appliances has been sent to America from Australia.


Senator Ogden - I can mention the case of an order sent from Tasmania for transformers.


Senator DUNCAN - The honorable senator said that an order had been placed in America by Mr. Davis, the well-known consulting engineer of Hobart, for supplies of transformers, but inquiry shows that during the last three months Mr. Davis has ordered Australian transformers for three municipalities in Tasmania. Senator Ogden also referred to lightning arresters.


Senator Ogden - They are not made in Australia.


Senator DUNCAN - Yes; Messrs. Payne and Ferguson, of Sydney, manufacture them, and are capable of turning out all that are required in this country.


Senator Ogden - But they are not purchased by electrical people.


Senator DUNCAN - They certainly are. There are a number of things that are not known even in Tasmania.


Senator H Hays - Tasmania has led the way in the development of electrical power.


Senator DUNCAN - I realize that Tasmania has been most progressive in developing her hydro-electric works, but I can assure Senator Ogden that he has been misinformed regarding the manufacture of transformers in Australia. The price is lower than that for transformers imported from America. The countries from which we must expect competition are the older European countries where the wages are low. The electrical goods which come from Great Britain are true to label, as is always the case with British goods; but the appliances imported from some European countries are very unsatisfactory, and cannot be depended on. They do not give the power which they are supposed to give. They may be lower in price, but they are dearer in the long run. Electrical goods made in Australia are of the highest standard; they conform to all the requirements of experts; nothing better could be desired. Wherever they have been used they have given splendid results. This is an industry which ought to be protected. We cannot afford to be dependent on outside sources for our electrical supplies, but we should be prepared for contingencies. I hope that the Government's proposals will be agreed to and an effective protection provided, not so much against goods from the United States of America, but against those from European countries where low wages are the rule.







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