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Tuesday, 5 May 1936

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Postmaster-General) . - One matter which I omitted to mention earlier was the fact that the United States of America, from which country I assume those honorable senators who favour a reduction of the intermediate and general tariffs hope to obtain cheaper farming implements, has not only point blank refused to negotiate a trade treaty with Australia, but has also imposed heavy duties on imports of wool from Australia. As I have already stated, negotiations are proceeding with Canada. What would be the position if the committee carried the amendment and intimated to the United States of America and Canada that it did not wish the Government to continue its negotiations for trade treaties?

Senator Badman - What about other countries that have a big adverse trade balance with Australia?

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Most delicate negotiations are in progress. According to the Tariff Board's report the duties proposed are not detrimental to the Australian industry, and the Government does not wish to do anything to prejudice our trade negotiations with the two countries mentioned. I ' have already indicated briefly what has happened in Canada during the last few weeks in regard to the marketing of our dried fruits. Therefore, we can well understand what would be the feeling of the settlers along the river Murray if anything done in this chamber prevented the Government from continuing its negotiations. I am, to use a primary producer's metaphor, leg-roped to a certain extent in this matter, because, as I have explained, negotiations are proceeding with Canada.

Senator Badman - The Tariff Board's report is nearly eighteen, months old.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I am well aware of that, and I also remind the honorable senator that eighteen months ago our trade balance with the United States of America was worse than it is to-day. I assure the committee that the Government has deliberately presented this item in its present form in the belief that it is in the best interests of Australia.

Senator Herbert Hays - Why should the local manufacturers take advantage of the protection given?

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I do not think that they have done so.

Senator Herbert Hays - Everybody knows that they have.

Senator Brown - Senator Johnston told us earlier in the evening that they have not.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - In reply to Senator Herbert Hays, I direct the attention of the committee to the following comments of the Tariff Board in its report of the 5th December, 1934: -

The production costs of the Australian binder submitted to the board give ground for questioning whether the entry of Australian manufacturers into the bindor section of the industry has been wise. It is a fair assumption, however, that this section of the industry has involved farmers in little, if any, excess costs. The price of the locally-made binder in Victoria has been consistently below the price of the imported binder in New Zealand, where it is admitted duty free. At present the Victorian price of the local binder is £68 5s., compared with £71 5s. in New Zealand; in New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia the price of the Australian binder is £73 2s. 6d., and in Western Australia it is £76 10s. Od.

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