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Wednesday, 6 May 1936


Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Postmaster-Gieneral) . - In order to clarify the position I shall cite figures showing the importations of these spare parts of agricultural machinery during the last few years. For portion of this period the importations were prohibited, unless the consent of the Minister for Trade and Customs was obtained.


Senator Gibson - There was never a prohibition against the importation of spare parts.


Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Importation of metal parts for reapers, strippers, threshers, and harvesters was prohibited from the 4th April, 1900, to the 31st August, 1932, entry being allowed only with the consent of the Minister for. Trade and Customs. In 1931-32 the value of the spare parts from the United States and Canada was £1,136; in 1932-33 a small quantitywas purchased from the United Kingdom; £843 worth from the United States and none from Canada. After the prohibition was lifted, Canada sent to us £221 worth of spare parts, New Zealand £5 worth, and the United States £791 worth in 1933-34. The value of importations from Canada in 1934-35 was £180, and from the United States £863. For the first six months of the current financial year, the total value of importations was £921. I assume that a considerable proportion of those parts has been purchased for replacements on machines which are being used. But both the Customs Department and the Tariff Board consider that the importation free of duty of spare parts would be used by the agents for imported machines to increase their competition with the Australian-made machines. If these spare parts entered Australia free of duty a tremendous inducement would be offered to the farmer to give the representatives of overseas businesses orders for new machinery. That, of course, would be disadvantageous to the local manufacturers.


Senator Badman - That is why the Government is penalizing the owner of an imported machine.


Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The penalty inflicted upon him cannot be so enormous in view of the limited importations during the last few years. Even in prosperous times their value did not exceed £8,000; nearly all of them came from Canada and the United States of America. Some of those spare parts, I have to confess to Senator Hardy, are used on machines already being operated in Australia; but local manufacturers view with concern the possibility of the importation of spare parts increasing after a reduction of the duty. For that reason the Government, pursuant to its policy, has adopted the duty of 2d. per1b. which was in existence in 1928.


Senator Hardy - The small importation of parts suggests that there cannot be many imported machines still in use by. agriculturists.


Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - No; in 1929 about £8,000 worth of metal parts was imported. It would be very dangerous to interfere with the duty if it is desired to preserve the market for Australian manufacturers.


Senator Badman - What course will the Government take if a new agreement is negotiated with Canada?


Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - It may have to grant some concession to the Canadian manufacturer ; but under existing conditions I am not prepared to do anything that will help the United States of America.


Senator Hardy - Are some of those metal parts now being manufactured in Australia under licence?


Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - During the dinner hour I shall take the opportunity to inquire into that matter, but I emphasize to honorable senators, and to primary producers generally, that if this market be given to the United States cf

America and exploitation begins, the Government has the machinery to deal with the situation. The most economic course from the viewpoint of the agriculturist is to establish efficient manufacture in Australia; this can be achieved only by assuring to the Australian manufacturer the home market. A big economic unit must be established In order to compete successfully with the manufacturers of other countries. .


Senator Badman - In this instance, a monopoly has been established.


Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - It is the responsibility of the Australian manufacturer to reduce his prices. When the honorable senator reads what tho Tariff Board has said-


Senator E B Johnston - The Tariff Board has recommended the alteration.


Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - If we open the gate to permit an influx of overseas articles an injury will be done to the Australian manufacturer. Probably his fears in this respect are exaggerated. I. suggest, however, that we are considering a trivial matter. In my opinion the proposal of the Government will not impose any burden upon the primary producer.


Senator Sir George Pearce - I understand that honorable senators have been invited by the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom (Sir Geoffrey Whiskard) to attend a social function between 5 and 7 p.m. I have consulted with them in this connexion and I believe that it will meet the convenience of the committee if the sitting be suspended till 8 p.m.

Sitting suspended from 5.1 till 8 p.m.







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