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Thursday, 14 May 1936


Senator HARDY (New South Wales) . - Leaving out the matter of excessive profits, I think the strongest point in the debate was made by the Minister in charge of the bill (Senator A. J. McLachlan). He stated that, if the Government followed the recommendation of the Tariff Board in regard to the general tariff, there would be no flexibility left for bargaining with other countries. That assertion introduces the whole subject of bargaining for satisfactory trade agreements. I do notlike to see one nation bargaining with another, but when other countries approach Australia with a request for trade treaties, the facts must be faced, and commercial logic applied to them. If we have a certain amount of flexibility in our various tariff duties, we shall have a more powerful lever for negotiating a trade agreement than if we had already given everything away.


Senator Payne - But the Belgians are aware of that.


Senator HARDY - That contention could be applied to the whole of the tariff schedule; it is public property. But what the Belgians do not know and what they cannot asume is the extent to which Australia will forgo its advantage in regard to certain high duties if Belgium will take a greater percentage of our primary products. Quite apart from profits Senator Badman desires countries such as Belgium to buy a greater quantity of Australian commodities. In order to achieve that object under existing conditions trade treaties must be negotiated and bargaining can be carried out on the lines indicated by the Minister.


Senator Badman - Why shut the door on those other countries?


Senator HARDY - I do not desire to close the doors; I am quite prepared to endeavour to increase the exports, but we must apply business logic to the subject. We cannot obtain satisfactory concessions abroad if we have given away everything before we enter into the negotiations. I have never been through the factory of the Australian Glass Manufacturers Company Limited, but I have seen its products. For the information of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings), I make haste to add that I am not a shareholder in any glass company. To-day, the price of sheet glass is lower in Australia than at any other time in my experience. The ordinary box frame and sashes used in the standard cottage throughout Australia is 10-in x 14-in. and contains a considerable quantity of sheet glass. The cost of that glass is lower than at any time during the last ten or fifteen years. While I do not deny that the company is making large profits and I am not prepared to say that I would not support a move to reduce the price of sheet glass, I consider that honorable senators should recognize that the industry has merit and should be treated impartially.







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