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Tuesday, 30 August 1921

Senator EARLE (Tasmania) .- This is an industry in which I am not personally interested, but I had an opportunity, on a trip through vineyards in New South Wales and South Australia, of noting the possibility of the starting of such an industry. Senator Payne was altogether wrong in saying that this industry was started without protection. It had the protection of total prohibition of im ports during the war.

Senator Payne - I meant Tariff protection.

Senator EARLE - What is the need of Tariff protection if imports are prohibited from any other reason? During the war tartaric acid could not be imported except under very great difficulties. I am informed that previous to the war the bulk of the importations came from Belgium. The continental countries producing tartaric acid had something else to think about during the war, and so this industry was started in South Australia toconvert wine lees, the waste product of the vineyards, into tartaric acid.

Senator Lynch - So it took a European war to give us this industry?

Senator EARLE - That is so. The honorable senator should use a little common sense. Up to that time wine lees were exported from. Australia at a very low price to Germany, where the tartaric acid was extracted and sent back to us, some probably through Belgium. I admit that the duties proposed are fairly high, but if they are necessary for the stabilizing of the industry, by all means let us make some sacrifice so that this very necessary commodity may be produced in Australia from our own raw material. This will assist our vineyards, . and will secure to the community a stable source of supply within our own country. I suppose that several companies will undertake the manufacture of this article. I quite recognise that until they are able to supply the whole of Australia's requirements housekeepers in Australia will have to make some sacrifice. Some honorable senators seem to have the idea that anything which the people of Australia are called upon to pay under a Tariff is absolutely lost. They probably do not believe in obtaining any revenue through the Customs House. I have no objection to obtaining some revenue in an equitable way through the Customs House. Some honorable senators work themselves up into a passion in discussing these questions as though a Protective duty represented a direct tax completely lost to the people of Australia. That is not so. By collecting revenue in this way, we are helping to build up indus tries in the country, and are thus rendering great service. The time will come when there will be no revenue derived from the duties on these commodities, since Australian requirements of them will be met by local manufacturers. Senator Lynch's idea of taxing only established industries has been very ably answered by the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen). If Senator Lynch proceeds on those lines he will become as famous as the late Sir George Reid was in connexion with the " dry dog." Sir George Reid suggested throwing the " dog " into the river, and if it did not swim he would let it drown. That seems to be Senator Lynch's policy. If an industry is able to fight its own way to maturity, it does not then require protection. Now is the time, when it is struggling, that we should protect this industry. Who would invest money in it if it were understood that they must produce two-thirds of the requirements of Australia at a loss before they would receive the benefit of protection through the Customs ? The industry requires protection now, and when it is sufficiently establishedt o be able to compete with the world it will be quite reasonable for Senator Lynch to advise then that the duty should be removed.

Senator Duncan - I have never known that stage to be reached yet in any protected industry.

Senator EARLE - If the honorable senator lives as long as I have, and is still as staunch a Protectionist, he will be able to look back and say that he is pleased with the effect of the policy, because Australia will then be a self-contained country. I am quite sure the honorable senator is supporting this duty because it is important to protect land workers in the closer settled districts of New South Wales and South Australia. One thing that has been exercising my mind of late is what are we going to do with the product of those closer settled areas. I am satisfied that returned soldiers in the irrigation areas will do well if they can successfully dispose of their products, and this industry will help in one direction, because it will create a demand for the residue of the vineyards. Like other honorable senators, I have had some correspondence in connexion with the matter, showing that a large quantity of tartaric acid is being produced in Australia, and advocating the deferred duties. I have the assurance of the Minister that the industry is now working, and that last year it produced £20,000 worth of this commodity. It is reasonable to suppose that, in the near future, it will produce £100.000 worth. In view ofthe Minister's assurance, and the outlook for the industry, I propose to vote for the duties.

Senator GARDINER(New South

Wales) [3.53]. - I am not at all surprised to hear Senator Earle say that he is going to vote for these duties; but I think honorable senators should inquire into the position. It is quite true that the industry will take a considerable quantity of what are at present the waste products of our vineyards ; but I understand that the amount of these waste products is so limited that the industrywill be unable to meet the needs of this country. Senator Earle's reference to the late Sir George Reid's " dry dog " brings to recollection certain incidents which, perhaps, I may be permitted to mention. As I remember the circumstances, the late Sir George Reid was piloting a Tariff through the New South Wales Parliament, and in defence of his policy he said. that infant industries were like puppy dogs - they had to be thrown into the stream and be taught to swim by themselves. As the Tariff debate proceeded it became apparent that Sir George Reid was depending, for his majority, upon the vote of Mr. R. D. Meagher, a representative, of the cane-fields in northern New South Wales, and by some means or other one of the puppy dogs that did not have to swim was the cane-sugar industry. It got protection to the amount of £6 per ton .

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable senator is a little wrong in his figures. The duty was £6 per ton. Sir George Reid reduced it by instalments.

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