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Thursday, 7 May 1936

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) . - I was astonished to hear the Minister say that no' protest had been received from Walkers Limited.

Senator Hardy - A submission of evidence is not necessarily a protest.

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - The evidence submitted by Walkers Limited represents the views of a company whose very existence depends on the sugar industry. Mr. H. S. Goldsmith, the general manager and director of Walkers

Limited, was born in Australia, and is a good citizen. When I met him in 1930 he told me that the company then had only about 200 employees, whereas before the depression it had800 men on its pay-roll.

Senator Hardy - Was the company then engaged solely in the production of machinery for processing sugar-cane?

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - No. It also made Diesel engines in order to keep its men employed. Maryborough is not so large a town that it can lightly see the number of employees of one of its manufacturing establishments drop from 800 to 200. Walkers Limited, like many other firms in Australia, first commenced the manufacture of machinery in Ballarat in 1864. Their Queensland factory was established in 18C8. Those who gave evidence before the Tariff Board in support of the then existing duties of British 45 per cent. and general 65 per cent., were - Mr. W. C. Myhill, secretary of the Metal Trades Employers Association, Sydney; Mr. H. S. Goldsmith, general manager and director of Walkers Limited, Maryborough, Queensland ; Mr. W. R. Adams, general manager of the Bundaberg Foundry Company Limited, Queensland; Mr. F. D. Taylor, secretary of A. Sargeant & Company Proprietary Limited, of Brisbane; Mr. R. Burton, representing Roy Burton & Company Proprietary Limited, Little Bourke Street, Melbourne; Mr. A. Aird, chairman of the engineering section of the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, Melbourne, on behalf of the following Victorian engineering companies, namely, George W. Kelly & Lewis Proprietary Limited ; Robison Brothers & Company Proprietary Limited, Steel Company of Australia Proprietary Limited, and Thompson's Engineering and Pipe Company Limited. That list of companies which favoured the existing duties is evidence that a number of Australian manufacturers receive some advantage from the Australian sugar industry. A reduction of duty in relation to one industry may vitally affect a number of other industries.

Senator Hardy - Were an English manufacturer to make a machine which would perfect the refining of sugar, would the honorable senator advocate its use in Australia?

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - The invention of such a machine might hit Australian manufacturers very hard. A good deal would depend on the patent rights. The honorable senator's question might also be adapted to the wheatfarming industry. In the event of another country developing a cereal far superior to wheat, rice or corn, would Senator Hardy advocate the discontinuance of wheat-growing in Australia? Walkers Limited are not the only company in Queensland manufacturing machinery for refining sugar, because at Bundaberg there is an establishment which makes this class of machinery. On one occasion, Mr. Goldsmith, of Walkers Limited, told me that were it not for the manufacture of sugar-mill machinery, the firm would probably have had to close its doors. The manufacture of Diesel engines assisted it tokeep going. I admit that we must keep in mind that the Ottawa agreement calls for reasonable competition, but, on the facts before me, the position is so serious that were Walkers Limited again to get into the position in which they were in 1930, a reduction of the duties on the class of machinery covered by this item would practically wipe them out of existence. We on this side do not say that every reduction of duty is wrong; but, in this instance, the evidence is clear that a reduction would endanger a valuable Australian industry. I rose particularly to inform the committee that the Minister was wrong in saying that there was no opposition to a reduction of the duties. The Minister is generally fair in the presentation of his case, but, in this instance, he, unintentionally, misled the committee. I trust that the committee will not take any action which might injure Australian manufacturers of machinery used in the processing of sugar.

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