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Wednesday, 6 May 1936


Senator E B JOHNSTON (Western Australia) . - I move -

That the House of Representatives bo requested to make the duties, sub-items (a), (b), (C) and (D), ad valorem - intermediate, 25 per cent. : general, 25 per cent, and omit the specific duties.

Those duties, covering four of the most important items in the schedule, were recommended by the Tariff Board after an exhaustive, complete and impartial inquiry. What is the use of having a Tariff Board if the Government completely ignores its recommendations, many of which apply to items of the utmost importance to the primary producers as a whole? Sub-item a of this item covers " hay rakes, horse ", on which the Government proposes a duty of British 10 per cent., and intermediate and general 45 per cent., or £3 ad valorem on each implement, despite the fact that the Tariff Board recommended in the intermediate and general tariff a duty, ad valorem, of 25 per cent. The Minister, who at heart and apart from his official attitude, has always advocated low duties in this chamber supports the Government's proposal. This item covers also reapers and binders. We find that recently at least one manufacturer of agricultural machinery increased the price of these machines from £70, which ruled over the last two years, to £75, less a cash discount of 2½ per cent. I have no doubt that he made this increase because he was assured that the Government would not allow importations to compete with its products. This increase of price applies throughout the Commonwealth. In' this matter I stand practically alone; many members of theFederal Country party have put their loyalty to the Government before their duty to the farmers of this country; nevertheless, I intend to exercise my right as a member of this chamber to move for a reduction of these duties to the rates recommended by the Tariff Board. I repeat that the board is an independent tribunal which stands for a fair deal for the Australian manufacturer. Yet we find that when it recommends a very considerable reduction of duties on agricultural machines, which are essential to the man on the land, this Government will not accept its findings. The Government is strengthened in such opposition to the interests of the men and women on the land by the attitude adopted by some members of the Federal Country party, which, if all its members were prepared to stand behind the Tariff Board and fight for a fair deal for the primary producers throughout Australia, could make this proud Government-, tremble in its shoes. In the present crcumstances, however, it is prepared to flout the recommendations of the board. I stand for the imposition of at least the duties recommended by that tribunal. I recall that at the last and the preceding federal elections when the Seullin Government was defeated, the Country party and the United Australia party supported candidates in Western Australia for both the Senate and the House of Representatives who favoured complete implementation of the board's recommendations for tariff reductions. On both those occasions I went from one endof Western Australia to the other supporting such candidates, including . Senator Pearce, Senator Lynch, and Senator Carroll. This item is one of, the most important in the, whole, of this schedule, and , I am amazed to find that from the seven members of the Country party in this chamber so little supportis forthcoming for the Tariff Board's proposals. One would have imagined that there would have been a strong desire, at least on the partof members of the Federal Country party, that the' recommendationsof the. board should be carried out, in order to enable the men and women on the land to receive the fullest possible relief in respect of duties on tools of trade which are vital to their industry. I have travelled over the whole of the wheat belt in Western Australia and over portions of the wheat belts in other States, and wherever I have gone I have found that the major complaint of the farmers is in regard to the high prices of agricultural machinery. There is no more necessary machine on the wheat farms of Australia than the reaper and binder. Every farmer uses one of these machines at harvest time in order to clear a passageway for the harvester and to obtain hay for his stock. In 1933, one of the leading implementmaking firms in Australia charged ?70 for a 6-ft. reaper and binder. The price remained the same in the following year, but in 1935 it was increased to ?72, and in 1936 to ?75. The Tariff Board- an independent tribunal in which, I believe, every honorable senator has confidence- hasreported that the duties on these machines should be decreased to 25per cent. Ifrankly admit that, if I had my way, these machines would be entirely free of duty. I have not, however, advocatedtheir free entry, b.ut in . my request haveadhered to the Tariff Board's recommendation. In the opinion of the board a duty pf 25 per cent is sufficient protection for the efficient Australian manufacturer's of these machines- I say " efficient " advisedly - especially when, inaddition, he has the benefit pf natural protection afforded by freight, insurance and other charges. To-morrow, when the committee is considering the duties on cement, the Government will, doubtless, stress the necessity to accept the judgment of the Tariff Board; but in regard to these machines, which are essential to one of Australia's most important industries, it has seen fit to ignore that body.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - (Senator J, V, MacDonald).-The honorable senator's time has expired.

Request negatived.

Item agreed to

Item 172 (Washing machines, mangles and wringers).







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