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Tuesday, 10 July 1906

Mr FOWLER (Perth) .- As one who has been busily engaged for some time in investigating cases of alleged dumping, I also would be glad if the Minister would give some specific instances. He may be in possession of information which has not been laid before the Tariff Commission, and, if so, it ought to be placed before the Committee. Seeing that dumping is alleged to be carried on in Australia to a considerable extent, this question ought, I think, to be threshed out, in view of all possible evidence, for the simple reason that it seems to be very largely a stock argument used by those who desire increased duties. If one is to believe all that has been stated before the Tariff Commission, one is driven to the conclusion that there is hardly such a thing as legitimate trade carried on in the matter of imports. Dumping has been alleged in innumerable cases - from rock salt to cotton wadding. Whenever a man wants an increased duty, and seems to be hard pressed for a reason, then dumping is alleged. I can say without hesitation that, when followed up, a great many cases of alleged dumping seem for the most part to have dissipated into thin air. I admit readily that in a country like Great Britain dumping undoubtedly is carriedon. That is to say, a country with a large population and free ports offers facilities for those who wish to get rid of surplus stock in other countries and still get the best possible rates. And because this dumping has existed in Great Britain, as has been frequently admitted even by free-traders, it has been found a very useful argument, indeed, I should say almost a scarecrow, to be used in Australia. It has been so introduced and established by the great protectionist organ of Victoria, which, day in and day out, has brought before the eyes of its readers the danger and the detriment of dumping, until the idea has positively obsessed all protectionist politicians. Although I admit readily that dumping has been carried on in the case of Great Britain, and for certain reasons, there are, so far as Australia is concerned, reasons which will tend formany a day to come to make dumping a very rare occurrence indeed. I do not want to introduce now in detail any of the evidence which has been submitted to the Tariff Commission. But I want to give what I might call apriori arguments to show that dumping is not likely to be car- ried on here under present conditions. Dumping is of two kinds. Goods may be introduced into a country with the object of killing a local industry, or they may simply be introduced to bring what they will fetch, without reference to whether there are competing industries in the country or not. With regard to the first class of dumping, the conditions under which, it could be carried out are very rare. No one would allege for a moment that any business man in a country outside Australia interested in an industry which is pretty generally conducted throughout the world would send his goods here and sacrifice them, in order to kill an Australian industry, for the simple reason that he would be doing something which could hardly bring him any advantage. If he killed the local industry he would simply do so, not for his own benefit, but for the benefit of other competitors by whom he was surrounded. I take it that no business man is such an arrant fool as to spend money in killing an industry in Australia when he has stronger and more powerful competitors around him, who would immediately step in and get the advantage of his sacrifice. The suggestion is absolutely ridiculous when it is examined from a business point of view. Again, take the dumping of goods into Australia in order that thev may bring whatever they will fetch. In Australia the conditions are such as to make that a most improbable act. In the first place, if a merchant in a part of the world which produces a superfluity of goods of a certain kind wants to dump, he will look for the biggest market he can possibly find, for the simple reason that if he were to select a limited market and send his goods there, the mere fact that thev were thrown at the consumers woul'd tend to bring down their value very considerably.

Mr Johnson - And it will not be a protected market.

Mr FOWLER - No Australian market presents those necessary conditions to the man who wants to dump goods. The Australian market is too limited to induce a man on the other side of the world to send his goods here, and run the risk of getting for them prices much lower than he could obtain in a larger market. Great Britain is the dumping ground for the surplus products of the protected countries of the world: because her market is open, and is situated nearer to the manufacturers, while it is also the biggest available. If a manufacturer has a large quantity of goods of which he wishes to dispose, he sends them into that market, because he knows that there the risk of a flooding taking place which would seriously lower their values, is the least possible. But manufacturers know that goods sent to this market are likely to be affected in price by the mere fact that they are being dumped. I desire more information on the whole subject than is yet in our possession, before proceeding with these clauses. I do not wish to vote for a mere electioneering kite, which the Bill seems to be. It is just possible that those responsible for it have introduced these clauses before the presentation of the reports of the Tariff Commission, fearing that, if they waited, those reports would show no justification for their action.

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