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Wednesday, 6 May 1936

Senator FOLL (Queensland) .- I rise particularly to refer to the remarks of Senator Johnston in relation to goldmining machinery. During recent months I have had some first-hand knowledge of the way in which the Customs Department has dealt with mining machinery which could not have been obtained in this country at reasonable prices. In every instance in which it could be shown that the cost of such machines, if made locally, would be greatly in excess of the cost of imported machines, free entry under by-law has been allowed. Having regard to the fact that gold is at a premium of about 100 per cent., it appears to me that the benefits arising from that premium should be shared by the manufacturers of mining machinery.

Senator E B Johnston - Does tha honorable senator advocate exploitation?

SenatorFOLL. - There has been no exploitation. I remind Senator Johnston that Western Australia has benefited more from the high price of gold than has any other State.

Senator E B Johnston - It has suffered more from the tariff than the other States have.

Senator FOLL - In respect of many of the mines in Western Australia which have been re-opened refunds amounting to many thousands of pounds have been made by the: Customs Department 'as the result of representations that ' suitable machinery has' not . been . procurable in Australia at. competitive rates. Whenever it has been shown that themachinery required wasof a special kindtheCustoms Department,after inquiry from local manufacturers as to their ability toproduce it, has always allowed it to enter free. Senator. Johnston is aware that Wiluna Gold Mines Limited, which is one of the biggest and most successful companies "operating in "Western. Australia, made representations to . the Customs Department that it was unable to obtain certain machinery from Australian manufacturers; thereupon large refunds of duty . were made to this enterprise. In Queensland, one of the big mining shows has received much the same generous treatment from the Customs Department. Only recently I sent to the general manager of one of the big new mines which is being opened in "Western Australia a copy of a list, consisting of about five pages of typewritten foolscap, of goods exempted from sales tax because they come under the heading of mining machinery. In my opinion, it is unfair to suggest that the gold-mining industry has been penalizedby any action of the present Government. Senator E. B. JOHNSTON ("Western Australia) [9.2]. - I was gratified to hear the remarks of Senator Foll in connexion with the duties on mining machinery. If only he could persuade the Government, for whom he acts as Whip in this chamber, to give effect more generally to the practice that he has mentioned; greater encouragement would be given to the new mining companies which arc developing centres such as Youanmi and Big Bell. Will the Minister in charge of the bill (Senator A. J. McLachlan) give an assurance that effect will be givento the suggestions of Senator Foll? If he will inform honorable senators that the remissions of dutywhich Senator Foll has stated should be-

Senator Foll - I said have been.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - Which should be allowed, in the futureI shall be quite satisfied. : In my. opinion, 'big miningplants from America, England, or elsewhere, whichwill be required for the. working ofenormousmines, such as the Big Bell and Wiluna,should be exempt from duties.I regret that Senator Pearce should choose this moment to leave thechamber.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Badman - Order ! The honorable senator should confine his remarks, to the item under discussion. -

Senator E.B. JOHNSTON.Senator Foll stated that the Commonwealth Government would admit mining machinery free of duty.

Senator Foll - No; I statedthat the Government has admitteda considerable quantity of milling machinery freeof duty.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - I regret that Senator Pearce's absence prevents him from confirming or contradicting the statement of the Government Whip. When I asked him to confirm Senator Foil's suggestion that the machinery required by the Youanmi and other mining centres of Western Australia would be admitted without penalty, the right honorable gentleman, who heard every word of that statement, left the chamber. I recall that Senator Pearce dared not face a public meeting in Perth, at which federal matters were to have been discussed. At the approach of the Federal elections, he left the State.


Senator E B JOHNSTON - I leave honorable senators to draw their own conclusions. I interpret Senator Foil's remarks to mean that extensive mining plant required from abroad will not be subject to heavy customs' duty, but unfortunately, that statement is contradicted by this tariff schedule. The gold mines of ' Western Australia employ thousands ofmen, and pay good wages. Is it fair that when enterprising, energetic and far-seeing persons are prepared to ' spend, not thousands of pounds, but sums in individual cases exceeding' a million pounds on the development of the gold-mining industry, they should be saddled with duties up to 60 per cent.? As a resultof the enterprise of these prospectors and investors, isolated areas hitherto inhabited by only the kangaroo) the- dingo- and the rabbit, have witnessed the "establishment of townships with, populations of several thousand"people." I feelvery; strongly upon this matter. I consider that the Commonwealth Government exposes itself to severe criticism in this connexion. I have stated many times that the futile federal administration of the tariff oppresses the primary producers. Under the present duties, if a company is desirous of developing the vast mineral resources of Western Australia, it is compelled to pay excessive duties upon machinery. Since being in this Parliament I have repeatedly tried, but with little result, to secure tariff relief for the mining and agricultural industries. I have also indicated many times that the tariff policies of all federal governments are advantageous to the manufacturers of the eastern States, but act to the disadvantage of primary producers. So long ns I am privileged to express an opinion in this Senate, I shall constantly oppose the imposition of excessive duties.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN". - The honorable senator's time has expired.

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