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Friday, 6 May 1921

Senator GARDINER - I think it would. The higher the standard of wages-

SenatorCrawford. - The lowerthe prices of commodities.

Senator GARDINER - The higher the standard of wages, the greater the purchasing power of the community. And as for the situation at Mount Morgan, or any other mine which may he concerned, I hold that the proposition can be worked just as profitably on a high-wage payment as upon a low one. No one, at any rate, can say that it is the lower wages of other countries which have reduced the price of the products of Mount Morgan.

As I pointed out the other day, the Government are doing wrong in not introducing a Bill under which they may issue the necessary regulations to govern the wool position. I believe that they cannot issue a regulation to interfere with, or prohibit, the export of goods except by bringing to bear the specifically prohibitive sections of the Customs Act. The Government will not be helping the wool-growers by their proposed prohibition.

Senator Crawford - The intention of the Government is to restrict, and not to prohibit.

Senator GARDINER - The facts shouldbe faced. If I possessed wool which I wanted to send to Englandtomorrow, the regulations proposed to be promulgated by the Government would prevent me from doing so, unless I sold my holdings at a price fixed by the Government.

Senator Vardon - Is the honorable senator opposed to Parliament taking some action that will stabilize the wool industry?

Senator GARDINER - No. I realize the importance and the value of the industry. At the same time I perceive that we cannot benefit the wool industry in the manner proposed and escape the responsibility of being called upon subsequently to benefit other industries. The value and importance of the wool industry in relation toallouractivitesandfinancial institutions is obvious. But the importance of Parliament proceeding in accordance with its traditions is, to my mind, even greater than the need, at this stage, for conserving the welfare of the wool industry. The Government, in their haste to take ill-considered action for the relief of wool-growers, are "red-raggers. " Just as the Government tell ourindustrial community that they should refrain from direct action and be content to in voke the Arbitration Court, I tell the Government that they also should refrain from direct action and be content to wait until they can adopt proper legislative procedure. But they will not accept my advice. They are "redraggers, advocates of direct action; they are "I.W.W." when the wool industry is at stake. They see red and plunge right ahead. The wool industry is confronted with the fact that the Bawra scheme, recently inaugurated, has practically failed. It has been stated by one critic that there would have been little surplus wool to-day had Bawra conducted its business as the ordinary individual conducts his. Another sapient critic has said that the difference between Bawra and business lies in the fact that the business man having wool to sell looks forpurchasers, while Bawra is content to sit back and let purchasers look for it.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - That is not correct.

Senator GARDINER - I think there may be something in it.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Bawra has already sold wool to Poland and Austria, on terms, and is finding markets every day; and it is not a month old yet.

Senator GARDINER - I have heard criticism from a man-

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Who has an axe to grind.

Senator GARDINER - A very big axe is being ground now, when the Government and the Parliament can be successfully persuaded to come to the rescue. The action taken by the Government really calls into being a trust tokeep up the prices of wool. The Government are deliberately using . the legislative machinery to strengthen and maintain the prices of wool.

Senator Fairbairn - Not high prices.

Senator GARDINER - We are asked to acquiesce in the creation of a combine.

Senator Fairbairn - Not to maintain high prices, but merely to pay wages.

Senator GARDINER - This Legislature is silent while the people who need woollen goods cannot get them because of the exorbitant prices. The Government are adopting a wrong practice and establishing a bad precedent, and the support which Parliament is giving amounts merely to acquiescence in an illegality.

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