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Thursday, 14 May 1936

Senator E B JOHNSTON (Western Australia) . - The Minister said that we had decided the principle embodied in my request. The committee's decision related to something which was entirely different in principle. The Minister's contention was that large quantities of agricultural machinery might come in from the United States of America with which country Australia has an adverse trade balance. In regard to cut glass, the position is quite different; our importations of these articles are comparatively small, and most of them come from European countries with which we have a very favorable trade balance, and some, if not all, of which have stated that they would like to take a good deal more of our primary products if we would take more of their manufactured goods. Glass is covered by a great many items. Details, as published in the Overseas Bulletin, of importations in 1934-35 of cut glass covered by item 955, are as follows: United Kingdom, £30,872; other British countries, £2; Belgium, £742; Czechoslovakia, £25,556; Germany, £20,590; Japan, £2,026; Sweden, £9,483; United States of America, £480; and other foreign countries, £1,092. Through its sub-consul in Perth, Germany has made repeated representations to the Government of Western Australia that it is prepared to take a good deal more of our wool and other products if we will take additional manufactured goods from it. Whenever the tariff has come under review, we have heard a good deal about the negotiation of trade treaties. In this case, however, I point out that we have the definite recommendation of the Tariff Board for a reduction of duty, and I am of opinion that, to enable us to negotiate trade treaties on lines that will be favorable to other- na tions, we shall have to reduce our duties a good deal below even the recommendations of the board. Under the item in respect of which I have just given the importations, it is clear that the majority of our importations, other than those from Great Britain, come from countries with which we have a very favorable trade balance. The Leader of the Opposition need not become alarmed at any reduction of duty which this committee may make so long as it is not below the rates recommended by the Tariff Board. That is all that this amendment entails. I repeat that the Tariff Board is an independent tribunal which gives efficient Australian industries more than a generous or proper share of protection; I can see no necessity, therefore, to give this industry a greater measure of protection than that recommended by the board. .

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