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Thursday, 3 December 1936

Senator SAMPSON (Tasmania) . - The introduction of this bill would have been unnecessary had Ministers listened to what was said last April when the cement duties were under consideration. If this measure has been introduced in pursuance of the Government's protective policy it does not say much for the policy which it then so strongly supported. It is useless to say to the Government : " We told you so ", but when the cement duties were under consideration we stated most definitely what was likely to happen to the Australian cement industry if inadequate duties were not imposed. At that time our protests were ridiculed. We were told that our protests were reducing the debate to a very low level; but we were fighting strenuously for the interests of those engaged in the cement industry. Instead of supporting a protective policy the Government, which was all wind, told us that the duties then proposed had to be adopted otherwise we would he interfering with the spirit, if not the letter, of the Ottawa Agreement. In effect we were informed that the recommendation of the Tariff Board was sacrosanct. What we asserted so definitely in April last has proved to be true, and it is now the responsibility of every honorable senator to do his best to safeguard this important key industry. I do not profess to know the effect of this measure upon the cement industry; but it is the responsibility of the Government to protect it, and if it does not do so effectively it will deserve all that may come to it.

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