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Thursday, 19 November 1936


Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) . - I have been wry much interested in the outbursts of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) and his colleague (Senator Brown). If ever two honorable senators endeavoured to damn a measure with faint praise, they have done it to-night. They fail to recognize what ought to be recognized by every thinking man and woman in Australia, that it is absolutely essential that we shall, as far as possible, have the most friendly relations with other nations in the world. The outlook in that respect to-day is very black indeed.

I welcome this treaty as one of the first attempts by this Government to do something to add to our circle of friends in the world. If ever a country needed the friendship of other nations to-day it is

Australia, because as far as I can see, no country in recent years has done more to antagonize other countries than Australia has by means of the tariff. Nothing is more provocative to the people of the world than the raising of excessive tariff barriers. In this bill the Government has made an agreement with Czechoslovakia, which is prepared to reduce its tariff in favour of Australia, and the Ministry has been wise enough to reciprocate by reducing the tariff on goods brought in from that country. The Leader of the Opposition had. the audacity to suggest that we could bring about all the reforms necessary to make this country the most perfect country in the world at one blow.


Senator Collings - I did not say that.


Senator PAYNE - That is the inference to be drawn from the honorable senator's words. If the honorable senator were supporting this bill in his heart, he would congratulate the Ministry for having done something, no matter how little. The main portion of the bill is contained in the schedules. If the honorable senator has perused the schedules, as T have done, he will have found that we are giving very little away indeed. I ask him to compare the schedule with the existing tariff.


Senator Collings - I can see things that are going to knock Australian industries.


Senator PAYNE - What does the honorable senator think of Australian workmen? Does he think that they are puerile individuals who cannot stand up, with a reasonable measure of protection, against the other countries of the world ? Does the honorable senator suggest that the Australian workman is so inefficient that, as a workman, lie has no status in the world ?


Senator BRowN - The Australian workmen are the most efficient in the world.


Senator PAYNE - If that be so, what objection can the honorable senator have to this bill, which takes practically no protection away from Australian workmen? I suggest that he should peruse the schedule very carefully before he speaks on the bill in the committee stage. The honorable senator will find that all his fears in that direction are groundless.

I was gratified to hear the remarks of Senator Arkins, which ought to be taken to heart by honorable senators, because they show clearly, being founded on fact, that Australia is not the only country in the world which can produce good workmen and splendid manufactures. It would be to our interest to cultivate friendly relations with other countries. Several honorable senators have referred to the possibility of a reduction of the standard of living, resulting from the admission into Australia of goods from oversea countries which will enter into competition with local manufactures. In view of the high tariffs which Australia has imposed against imported goods, there can surely be no justification for such a viewpoint. My intention in rising to speak on this bill was not for the purpose of discussing the measure in detail, but. to express my pleasure at the fact that Australia has at last taken the first step in order to bring about good feeling among nations upon which we have to rely to help us out of the wood in regard to the sale of our surplus products.


Senator Collings - And we are relying on a small country like Czechoslovakia !


Senator PAYNE - That is only one nation. Before very long I hope that the Government will conclude trade agreements with other countries.


Senator BRowN - How does the honorable senator reconcile his contention with the action which the Government has taken against Japan and the United States of America?


Senator PAYNE - The honorable senator knows very well that I am no: so foolish as to make any reference to that subject at this moment. I do not propose to make any statement which might imperil the negotiations between representatives of the Commonwealth and Japan which have been proceeding in Canberra to-day. For that reason I shall not fall into the trap which the honorable senator has evidently set for me by referring to that matter.

I appreciate the fact that the Government has been able to introduce this billand I hope that it will be the forerunner of similar measures in relation to other countries with which we have a vital commercial interest. Such agreements are all to the advantage of Australia, and any action which we are able to take to cultivate friendly relations with other countries will be helpful rather than detrimental to Australian workmen and to the Australian community as a whole. For that reason I express my pleasure at the introduction of the bill.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.

Schedules.







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