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Tuesday, 5 May 1936


Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Postmaster-General) . - I shall explain first the Government's proposals in regard to these items as a group, and then deal with the pointsraised by Senator Johnston. The recommendations of the Tariff Board in regard. to the British preferential tariff have been adopted by the Government, but those dealing with the general tariff rate3 have not been accepted, for the reason that their adoption would benefit only the United States of America and Canada. Australia's trade balance with the firstmentioned country is so adverse that the Government did not consider it advisable to take any action which might make the position worse. In 1925-26, Australia's importations from the United States of America were valued at £87,234,257, compared with exports to that country valued at £12,953,877. Of the latter amount, £3,000,000 represented bullion and specie exported to meet our obligations in New York. Our exports of merchandise to the United States of America in that year were valued at £9,748,141, so that the excess of merchandise imports was £27,486,116. In the following year the position was even worse, for Australia exported to the United States of America bullion and specie to the amount of £10,000,060 to meet its obligations there, and the excess of merchandise imports over exports represented £32,971,528. The position improved slightly in the following year, the excess merchandise imports over exports being £28,000,000. In that year Australia exported to the United States of America bullion and specie worth £2,000,000. The trade balance was £29,700,000 .against Australia in 1928-29, and in the following year £26,000.000, after taking into account £1,000,000 sent to the United States of America in bullion and specie. For the five-year period, Australia's adverse trade balance with the United States of America represented the colossal total of £144,699,833.


Senator E B Johnston - Representing chiefly motor cars and petrol.


Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The adverse trade balance in 1930-31 was £8,668,000, and in the following year £5,617.000, after allowing for bullion to the value of £1,685,000 sent from Australia. The trade balance was against Australia by £7,286,000 in 1932-33, by £5,892.000 in 1933-34, and by £8,891,000 in 1934-35. For the quinquennial period the total adverse trade balance amounted to £36,000,000. During that period Australia exported gold bullion valued at £3,465,000. For the first seven months of the financial year 1935-36, our adverse trade balance with the United States of America amounted to £5,368,000, after allowing for an export of gold and bullion valued at £1,666,000. The position this year is worse than it was for the corresponding period last year, when the adverse trade balance was approximately £5,000,000. Those figures show, not only the position which conf ronted tlie Government when it examined the position, but also Australia's wealth, for a poor country could not have held out so long.


Senator Duncan-Hughes - Has any effort been made towards rectifying the position ?


Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The first effort is indicated in this item.


Senator Gibson - The schedule merely leaves duties as they were; it does not improve matters.


Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The Government is trying to bring about an improvement. Other and more decisive steps may have to be taken.


Senator Gibson - Duties have not been raised sufficiently to prevent imports from the United States of America.


Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - If the duties were reduced the position would become worse. In ordinary circumstances, the Government would have accepted the recommendation of the Tariff Board, but in view of the startling figures relating to the trade balance it had to take the step indicated in this schedule. The Government has decided on a course of action which it hopes will not only prevent the position from becoming worse, but will also relieve the situation, so that we in this country may not become bond slaves to the people of the United States of America.


Senator Badman - What about importing farm machinery from Canada ?







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