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Thursday, 8 March 1928

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) . - On many occasions I have proclaimed myself a protectionist. By that I mean a comprehensive protectionist. There are no boundaries or geographical limitations to my fiscal faith. I say emphatically that protection is a sound policy for the Commonwealth of Australia, and the majority of the people agree with me. Is there to be protection for one section only ? No ; it must embrace both primary and secondary industries. The man on the land will receive from me as much consideration as those who are engaged in other activities. I have said many times that for years there was as much sweating .in the field of agriculture as there was in our secondary industries in the yeaTs gone by. I belong to a party which time and again has declared war on sweating in every shape and form. This industry has been carried on under conditions which in some cases are almost indescribable. No holidays are gazetted for the dairy fanner; ne works on 365 days in the year, whether the weather be wet or fine. Many of us are acquainted with his struggles and his strivings, and know what his net return is at the end of the year. A member of another place has said that the conditions that obtain in the dairying industry are due largely to the high wages that are paid. To use an Australianism he was " talking through his hat." A short while ago the industry could not afford to pay anything like reasonable wages. According to. a report of the Tariff Board they varied from 25s. to 40s. a week, and keep. Those who are engaged in other spheres of activity are ' paid a much higher wage than that. I am not foolish enough to believe that the imposition of high duties will immediately reduce the price of commodities. In certain cases the effect for the time being has been to increase the price. On the other hand, other industries have been brought into existence, and with the adoption of uptodate methods have cheapened the cost of certain commodities. When I consider the matter I do not ask myself whether the result will be an increase, for the time being, in . the price of a pair of boots, a suit of clothes, or a hat. If I were actuated by such a motive I could not vote for a high duty. If it is a good thing to protect the clothing manufacturer, the boot manufacturer, or any other manufacturer, why should not the principle be applied also to the primary producer? I am an Australian, and I want the local market to be held by the Australian producer. In the case under discussion the producer is the dairyman. Labour .supporters in Australia do not want to wear boots, clothes, or hats that have been manufactured by sweated labour. I am satisfied that their sense of justice is such that they desire for others the same conditions that they themselves enjoy. The item may mean a. slight increase in the price of butter, but that is no reason why we. should not vote for it. The primary producers of Australia are entitled to the fullest consideration. Into the Australian -market which should belong to the Australian producer, butter to the value of £750,000 was imported during a period of two years. I am glad to be able to support this item, and to intimate that any other proper proposal which is in the interests of our primary producers will also receive my support.

Item agreed to.

Progress reported.

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