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Thursday, 10 June 1926

Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) . - I ask the Minister (Senator Crawford) to give this matter further consideration. I do not like to assist in reducing the British preferential rates, but when they may seriously affect the employment of Australian workmen, I have to consider my position. I understand a request has been moved for a reduction of 5 per cent. in the British preferential rate which, in my opinion, is not an attack upon the principle of preference to Britain, but the effect of it may be of great assistance to Australian workmen. In the 1921 tariff the duty on unassembled chassis was 5 per cent. British, per cent. intermediate, and 10 per cent. general, and on assembled chassis7½ per cent. British, 10 per cent. intermediate, and12½ per cent. general. In this schedule the proposal is to make unassembled chassis free British,7½ per cent. intermediate, and 12½ per cent. general. Senator Lynch's request is to reduce the intermediate tariff to 2½ per cent., and the general tariff to7½ per cent. In this matter we must have regard to the position of America. It is not so much a matter of preference to Britain as to the American business. The assembling of chassis here will give employment to a large number of Australian mechanics.

Senator J B Hayes - They will get just as much employment in the assembling of British as of American chassis.

Senator NEEDHAM - I doubt it, because many more cars of American manufacture are being imported.

Senator Pearce - There are more unassembled chassis coming from Great Britain than from America.

Senator NEEDHAM - I have no objection to preference being given to Great Britain; but when it is a question of preference to Great Britain as against employment to Australian workmen I must consider my position. We are all anxious to give preference to the Mother Country whenever that is possible, but it is obvious that the duties in this item will work to the disadvantage of the Australian industry.

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