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Thursday, 2 June 1921

Mr RILEY (South Sydney) .- This is one of the key industries of the whole Commonwealth. It has been established in Australia for a number of years by pioneers, who have risked their capital, and brought the best brains they could possibly command to the task of establishing it. So far they have been going on under very moderate protection, and have been able to supply the markets of the Commonwealth with an article that we all desire. The praise of the whole community was lavished upon them during the war for the noble way in which they stepped in to supply steel rails, even to the British Government. They also supplied cur own requirements/ and kept our manufacturers going. If this is to be a country of any importance, we must have industries of this kind established here. No country in the civilized world has made any progress unless a large part of its population has been engaged in the manufacture of iron and steel, and other requirements. If we are to take our place among the nations, we must have this as our base, industry. We are only starting to develop this industry, but already one company alone has spent nearly £5,000,000 in placing at Newcastle one of the best plants that can be found in any part of the world. They find themselves in competition now with the foreign article.

Mr Considine - They are great philanthropists !

Mr RILEY - I do not suppose they are in the business for the good of their health. Their object is to make money, the same as other people, both here and in other parts of the world. There is another iron works established at Lithgow, and Mr. Sandford, who did the real pioneering there, wasted his money and energy, and almost went insolvent over it. Then Mr. Hoskins took it up. He has been plodding along and developing it, and to-day, like the Broken Hill Company, he finds himself at the mercy of the Belgians, who are prepared to dump iron and steel in here at very reduced rates. This is not a question of Protection ot Free Trade so far as I am concerned. It is a matter of preserving an industry which has already been established. I suppose 7,000 or 8,000 men are employed in the two establishments, and many more are engaged in the . branch industries that have sprung from the iron and steel industry. We shall be treading on very dangerous ground if we do not see that this industry is given the fullest possible protection. The Minister is cavilling over an increase of £1 per ton in the duty, for that is all that the honorable member for Newcastle's amendment means. The honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell) said that an increase of £1 per ton on this raw material means an increase in all the other commodities. It does ; but if an increase of £1 per ton is put on the raw material, and in consequence another £1 per ton is put on the price of galvanized iron, it does not take a ton of iron to cover an ordinary house, and even an extra £1 on a cottage or house that is being built is a mere nothing compared with the great industry that the extra duty will support and maintain. The same thing applies to agricultural machinery. Most of those machinesdonot weigh very much, because the whole object of the manufacturer is to make them as light as possible to handle and work.

Mr Hill - The duty is £50 on a single machine.

Mr RILEY - L am speaking only of the increase in the duty as proposedby the honorable member for Newcastle. It has been argued that if the Minister accepted the amendment it would add to the cost of machinery. I do not suppose it would add 10s. to the cost of a plough or , a reaper and binder. I hope honorable members who have put forward that argument will look at the matter in a practical way. An increase in the duty to protect this large industry is certainly going to increase the price of other things, but that argument can be urged against every duty thatwe impose. Recently the honorable member for Lilley , (Mr. Mackay) appealed for an increased duty on bananas, and ; an increase was granted; with the result that to-day there is . an increase of 6s. in the price of bananas. The honorable member knew, and we all knew, that that . would be the effect, but we . knew also that the increased duty was going to . preserve an important industry. I hope the honorable member who was treated so generously about bananas will look with a friendly -eye upon this industry:, and help to keep it in existence. One could go from one industry to the other and show the great advantage that has accrued to all of them, and to the labour employed in them, through the establishment of the iron and steel industry in the Commonwealth. The Broken Hill Company are prepared to make the material for every iron or steel bridge that needs to be constructed in the 'Commonwealth. They are making that material in this country; they employ labour here; and the whole Commonwealth benefits. They can make here all the steel rails that used to be imported, and surely that is an advantage to this country. Any company that has embarked its capital in the iron and steel industry in Australia we have a right to protect up to the hilt. I have been supporting the Minister during the whole of the Tariff, and I assure him that he would do well to err on the right side by accepting the proposed increase in the duties, because it would be a guarantee of stability and permanency to the people who have put their money into the industry. They say that they cannot carry on against the competition which they are called upon to meet. The Minister says he is prepared to bring in a Bill to prevent dumping, because, as he admits, no . matter what duties are imposed, the Tariff alone will not keep the industry -going. There, is a good deal of -truth in that contention, . and therefore we want the Anti-Dumping Bill as well as the Tariff.


Mr RILEY - We must have it if the industry is to exist at all

Mr.Considine. - The Minister does not propose to bring ina Bill to stop the dumping of labour in this country.

Mr RILEY - No; he is leaving that to the honorable member.. I shall support the increased duties, because the company has been paying decent wages, so far as it possibly could, according to the awards of the Arbitration Court. There have been very few disputes among the employees in the district, and under these conditions I want to see the industry protected. I shall not only vote for the increased duties,but I shall vote also to keepout those . articles which are going to ruin our industries by dumping.

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