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Thursday, 1 September 1921

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) . - In this instance we are giving Great Britain a 20 per cent, preference, which is very substantial, and as great as has been given in any other instance. Senator Drake-Brockman entirely shuts his eyes to what happened in Australia during the war period, when he speaks of war purposes and defence. If it had not been for the establishment of certain Australian industries on a firm basis the transAustralian Railway would not be completed to-day.

Senator Keating - Our development would have been in the hands of people abroad.

Senator PEARCE - It would. As Minister for Defence I had to control the priority of contracts and negotiate with British Ministers concerning the order in which they were to be handled. It was pitiable during the earlier stages of the war, when Britain was so hard pressed in the manufacture of munitions, to realize that, in sending Home orders for articles of this character, which should have been manufactured here, we were impeding her war efforts. But to-day we can supply ourselves with these articles. During 1920 only £138,000 worth were imported. The protection of this industry is essential for war purposes, and on the very grounds the honorable senator mentioned; When he speaks of development he should remember that, in the interests of the Commonwealth, it is better to have local supplies of these articles at our disposal. I cannot accept the request.

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