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Tuesday, 5 May 1936

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I shall deal with that subject presently. At this stage I content myself with saying that the British preferential rate is being availed of by some foreign traders to get into Australia goods which are not really the product of the alleged country of origin.

Senator Badman - Is the Minister in favour of American manufacturers setting un factories in Australia, as the Ford Motor Company has done?

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - No objection can be taken to the establishment of factories here. If the present unsatisfactory state of affairs continues, Australia will have great difficulty in meeting its interest bill in New York. The Government believes that it is important that the primary producers of this country should be able to purchase, at a proper cost, agricultural implements made in this country. As honorable senators are well aware, Australian brains have led the world in the designing of agricultural machinery. Australian manufacturers not only produce implements suitable to Australian conditions, but they also have ample stocks of spare parts. They have not been making excessive profits. During 1933-34 they gave direct employment to over 3,900 workers to whom they paid £670,000 in wages. The industry consumed Australian raw materials valued at £800,000, and manufactured products worth £1,700,000. The additional employment provided indirectly is considerable, and should not be overlooked in dealing with this industry. It is difficult to believe that Australian agriculturists desire that the equipment they need should come from overseas, when Australian manufacturers with their extensive range of specialized equipment suitable to Australian conditions already serve them well at reasonable prices.

Senator Badman asked why farm implements could not be imported from Canada. Under the Australian-Canadian trade agreement the general tariff rates are applicable to Canadian agricultural implements. In order to give concessions to Canada in this connexion an amendment of the agreement would be necessary. When that agreement comes up for review the matter will be considered. Canadian Ministers are now on their way to Australia in order to negotiate a further trade agreement.

Senator Badman - Could not the Tariff Board's recommendation be accepted ?

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The Tariff Board's report was fully considered by. the Government which is convinced that its decision will not adversely affect

Australian primary producers. The board stated that the existing prices of Australian-made agricultural implements are not unreasonable. Had local implement manufacturers been making undue profits, or been producing uneconomically, thereby causing prices to become inflated, the general tariff rates recommended by the Tariff Board might have been adopted ; but the board's report shows that neither of these things has been occurring.

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