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Tuesday, 8 June 1926

Senator McHUGH (South Australia) . - I support the proposed duty.I do not think Senator Needham moved his amendment from any selfish standpoint ; but as a " whole-hogger " protectionist I believe in building up Australian industries. I have supported every item in the schedule, and in one or two instances I should have supported even higher duties than those proposed. The letters from local governing bodies should not influence honorable senators in their attitude towards the schedule. I probably have received letters from those who have asked for a reduction of 7½ per cent., but I do not think that such a reduction would materially affeet either the cost of road work or the cost of the machinery. When manufacturers feel secure from foreign competition, they will bring their workshops up to date, and introduce more efficient methods, which mean cheaper work and better results. We all believe that good roads are necessary, but it will be a long time before we shall have good roads throughout this great continent, from north to south, and from east to west. The figures given by the Minister, showing that the wages paid in Australia are 92 per cent, higher than those paid in some other countries from which road-making machinery might be imported, are sufficient to convince us of the necessity for granting adequate protection to this and other industries.

Senator Sir Henry Barwell - It might be better for Australia if some of them ceased to exist.

Senator McHUGH - I stand for the creation and maintenance of Australian industries. I prefer that the machinery which we require should be made by Australians, working under decent Australian conditions, than that it be imported from countries where the employees live in a semi-starved condition. Bather than send work to men in other countries I would have them come here and enjoy the conditions which obtain in Australian industries.

Senator Cox - But the honorable senator is opposed to immigration.

Senator McHUGH - I am not.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Newlands - Order ! The immigration policy may not be discussed under this item.

Senator McHUGH - Our secondary industries, if encouraged and developed, will be able to absorb men from other countries; and they, in turn, will assist to pay the taxes necessary to provide good roads throughout Australia. The best way to develop this country is to establish our industries on a sound footing. Our secondary industries can only be built up with the aid of a protective tariff.

Senator Sir Henry Barwell - It is possible to build them up at the cost of our primary industries, which are more important.

Senator McHUGH - The best market for our primary products is the home market.

Senator Sir Henry Barwell - But it is a limited market.

Senator McHUGH - Of course, it is. That is because our secondary industries are. limited. But let them be built up into vast industries, and there will be an improved home market. If some honorable senators had their way, there would be no secondary industries in Australia. I do uot know whether Senator Payne is an importer, but no barrister commanding a high fee could have presented a better case for the importers than he did. I have always been a protectionist, and, I claim, a consistent one. I regret that Senator Lynch, who also was at one time a protectionist, has forsaken the policy of protection; but I believe that he will see the error of his ways, and again advocate it. I hope that the item will be agreed to. The higher duties will not interfere with the cost of roadmaking. When, by their aid, our workshops have been established on a sound footing, road-making machinery will be made here at less cost than that at which it can be imported, and roadmaking in Australia will become cheaper.

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