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Thursday, 2 June 1921

Mr GREGORY (DAMPIER, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Well, that is what one hears in the lobbies.

Mr Richard Foster - That will not strengthen the honorable member's case. It is useless making such statements, and the honorable member should realize it.

Mr Considine - The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), is showing his opposition to such a proposal.

Mr GREGORY - I do not believe in low wages; but we want our industries to be effective, so that we can hold the trade. I am anxious to see men paid according to what they do, because if the operatives will not produce sufficient the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) will find his Tariff proposals generally of little value.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I went over the works, and did not see a single man who was not doing his best.

Mr GREGORY - Taking the duties suspended on the basis of 1913 importations, it means protection to the extent of over £700,000 on this item alone, and I do not believe any Government would dare to give a bounty on the same basis. If this high duty is imposed, it will fall only on one section of the community. It is all very well for the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) to appeal for- high duties-; but if they are imposed, they will not have the slightest effect upon his constituents. It is those hard and overtaxed workers in the rural areas, who are opening. up new country, and who are developing it to the best of their ability, who will have to pay the impost. If rural production is unprofitable, there will be no room for the Broken Hill Steel Works, or any such industry. We see reports in the newspapers every day that mines are being closed down,, and the imposition of. heavy duties must have a corresponding effect in the cost of working, the mines.

Mr Considine - Is the honorable member now in a position to give information concerning certain propaganda work?

Mr GREGORY - I have only just received my papers, and am unable to discuss the matter at this, juncture. In fact. I do.not, see how I can find an opportunity, unless on a motion for the adjournment of the House. The primary producers will have to pay the whole of the extra duty.

Mr Richard Foster - Why does not the honorable member make a rational statement? Does he think the primary producer is a fool?

Mr GREGORY - If we follow the matter to its logical conclusion, we find that it is. the primary producer who is keeping our industries in operation, and without his efforts we would not have even our cities-.

Mr Richard Foster - I know that; but the honorable member's, statement is incorrect.

Mr GREGORY - Perhaps some of those who are supporting the higher duties possess only a garden tool.

Mr Richard Foster - I believe in something reasonable.

Mr GREGORY - I have been endeavouring to show that practically the whole of this heavy impost will fall upon the primary producer, who is not having what can be termed a good time. I trust the Committee will absolutely refuse to increase the rates, but will support the amendment I have suggested, which does not provide for a reduction from countries outside the United Kingdom, but for a lower duty on goods coming from Great Britain.

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