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Wednesday, 9 June 1926

Senator H HAYS (Tasmania) .- I hesitate to support the request moved by Senator Barwell, although I am in sympathy with the sentiments which he and Senator Ogden have expressed. I believe that we should make electrical appliances as cheap as possible in order to encourage the- general use of power. But by granting a measure of protection, we Lave encouraged the establishment of these industries in Australia; and it hardly seems fair, that we should now remove that protection from those who have invested their money in this industry.

Senator Sir Henry Barwell - Why perpetuate a wrong ?

Senator H HAYS - Those who have invested their capital in this industry have done so in good faith, believing that Australia's general policy of protection will be continued, and it seems unfair to single out this one industry for special treatment at this stage. I am, however, opposed to increasing the duties under the old tariff. This industry was established, and it attained to the high standard of perfection referred to by Senator Duncan under the duties imposed by the 1921 tariff. There appears, therefore, to be no justification for increasing the duties. The arguments of Senator Duncan are really against increased duties. He told us, in effect, that the industry was so well established, and its products so satisfactory, that, were it not for the American duty, Australian-made electrical appliances could compete in the United States of America with those made there. To remove the duties entirely, and admit the goods free, would be unfair, unless compensation were offered to those who, in good faith, established the industry here. I should support an amendment which, in addition to repealing these duties, provided for payment of compensation to those concerned. Failing that, I shall reluctantly be compelled to oppose Senator Barwell's request, although I desire that electrical appliances shall be made available at the lowest possible price.

Senator Sir HENRYBARWELL (South Australia) [9.7]. - I recognize the strength of the argument put forward by Senator H. Hays, and realize that if the request which I have moved were agreed to, a case for compensation would be made out. I moved my request, however, in order to show where I stand in regard to this matter. I have no hope that it will be agreed to by the committee. This is an industry which I feel should not be protected. That an error has been made in the past is no reason for our perpetuating it. I admit that those who have invested their money in this industry have done so believing that it will continue to be protected.

Senator Ogden - When they started they were given no guarantee that the policy of protection would be continued.

Senator H Hays - But it was implied.

Senator Sir HENRYBARWELL.The fault was in protecting this industry in the first instance. By increasing the duty we shall merely perpetuate the blunder.

Senator H Hays - I am not supporting the increased duty.

Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL - Even to agree to a continuation of the duty imposed under the old tariff would be to perpetuate the original mistake. I was disinclined to vote for Senator Ogden's request because I felt that this industry could well be sacrificed in the interests of all other industries; but I realize that should the duties be entirely removed, those who have invested their money in this industry would have a just claim for compensation.

Request negatived.

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