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Thursday, 7 May 1936

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Postmaster-General) . - I am rather pleased that Senator Brown has brought into such bold relief the fact that these duties, which were recommended by the Tariff Board, are the result of an. application by the British manufacturers of sugar-refining machinery. His complaint, apparently, is that the board made its recommendation under the terms of article 10 of the Ottawa agreement. The board stated -

The relative costs of economical and efficient production in the engineering industry, as between the United Kingdom and Australia, have already been exhaustively investigated by the board, with the result that a duty of 45 per cent, was deemed to be the appropriate margin of protection necessary to .adjust such relationship of costs.

What would Senator Brown say if we did not honour our obligation under the Ottawa agreement?

Senator Brown - These reduced duties are no part of our obligation.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Will the honorable senator deny that there is an obligation on the part of the British Government to grant preference to Queensland sugar in the British market? What would Senator Brown say if Great 1314 tain-

Senator Brown - On a point of order, I protest that the Minister is misinterpreting what I said. My point is that it is not mandatory on this Government to accept the recommendation of the Tariff Board. The Minister is misleading the committee when he says that it is obligatory to do so.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I said nothing of the sort. The honorable gentleman has no right to assert that I am misleading the committee. His trouble is that he and his Queensland Labour friends are getting what they have been looking for as regards the relationship of British preference to Queensland sugar and our obligations under the Ottawa agreement. They cannot have it both ways. They cannot, on behalf of Walkers Limited, object to the lower tariff rates on sugar machinery, and, at the same time, expect preference for Queensland sugar in the British market. "Under the agreement with South Africa, they now have a market in Britain, which, in other circumstances, would probably be closed against them. It was only natural that British manufacturers of sugar machinery should expect something from us in return for concessions which Britain is giving to our sugar producers in its market. We have made a bargain with Great Britain, and have certain obligations, which, in the interests of Australian sugar-growers, should be honoured.

Senator Collings - We had British preference for our sugar long before the Ottawa agreement was made.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Its continuance has been secured to our growers under the agreement with South Africa, and although it is not mentioned specifically in the Ottawa agreement, its bearing upon our obligations under that contract cannot be overlooked. The honorable gentleman knows this very well, and I am surprised that he and his Queensland colleagues should continue their attack on the Ottawa agreement.

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