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Wednesday, 6 May 1936

Senator HARDY (New South Wales) . -Owing to circumstances beyond my control, I was absent from the chamber yesterday; but I have since studied the discussionand the Minister's remarks oil itern 161, covering agricultural machinery and implements. A departure from the recommendation of the Tariff Boardin respect of the duties on agricultural machinery isa matter of prime importance to the membersof the Country party, who have consistently advocated the implementing" of the board's recommendations. I do not say that every member of the Country party has, at all times, stood for the letter of the Board's recommendations, for I reflect that, in connexion with the duties on tobacco, some members of the party, including myself, did not accept its recommendation. In that instance, new factors had arisen since the publication of the board's report, and we supported the Government's action in raising the duty on tobacco by 6d. per lb., contrary ro the board's recommendation. In respect of the item before the committee, we are told that two factors have influenced the Government - the proposed trade treaty with Canada, and the desire to rectify the adverse trade balance with the United States of America. I should like to know whether I am correct in assuming that the Postmaster-General's statement means that the Government desires that action in respect of these items shall be deferred until the position in relation to trade with Canada and the United States of America has been clarified. The matter is of vital importance to the farming community.

Senator Sir George Pearce - The duties will operate, but they will be subject to review after the conference.

Senator Herbert Hays - I should like to know how any alteration of the duties now could possibly prejudice the discussions?

Senator HARDY - If the honorable senator would apply to this subject ordinary commercial logic, he would realize that it is not wise to create a new factor on the eve of a complete survey of the whole field. Speaking for myself, I am prepared to accept the Government's assurance that these duties will be reviewed after the termination of negotiations with Canada and the United States of America.

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