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Tuesday, 9 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I wish the Government would come round to a common-sense method of dealing with trade. We are placing' a bar in the way of New Zealand and Canadian goods coining to this country. But such goods will' not come unless we require them; firms do not ship goods to other countries except in return for orders, accompanied with money or good credit. It does nob matter a snap of the fingers to these rich milk firms what the Tariff is; what they desire is the Australian trade. If we, by means of the Tariff, make it difficult to trade, with other countries, these companies, being world-wide in their operations, will . supply from elsewhere. All we are really doing is to interfere with trade by bolstering up a few people, whom we imagine will in some way or other benefit Australia. According to Senator Lynch, the balance-sheets of the company that has been, referred to show dividends of 15 per cent. for the last fourteen years.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is not in Australia, but has reference to the European branch.

Senator Lynch - How do we know that the profits are not much greater here ?

Senator GARDINER - In any case, I do not see why we should go out of our way to make their profits still more. The Minister (Senator Russell) apparently is afraid- of New Zealand and Canadian competition, but, personally, I am not afraid of any such competition. I am sorry to say that these great companies, or Combines, being world-wide, set the markets for the different branches, and all that we do here amounts to so much humbug. We know that for months in the year Canadian cattle have to be handfed and sheltered in artificially heated houses, whereas in Queensland, which is also a cattle-raising and milk-producing State, the climate is practically as good in the winter as in the summer. In these circumstances, why, should these firms be nursed and coddled at the expense of the community?

Senator Russell - Denmark, which is similarly circumstanced to Canada, produces the best butter in the world.

Senator GARDINER - Quite so, but instead of our trying to compete with those countries by using the intelligence there displayed, we shut competition out. There is anything from. 20 to 30 per cent. protection afforded by the . freightage, and, moreover, we have the advantage of climate and of pastures rich beyond the dreams of those engaged in this industry in the countries I have referred to. At the same time, some of these big milk companies here, as soon as the Protectionists in another place impose a duty on timber which gives a little advantage on the side of importing the timber necessary for the cases, send huge orders abroad; they are not Protectionists, but

Free Traders, when it is a matter of obtaining the materials they require. They do not fail, however, to take advantage of every dot and comma in the Tariff-, and we make milk1d. or½d. per quart dearer to enable them to carry on a business which for fourteen years has returned them dividends of 15 per cent.

Senator Lynch - For the benefit of foreign shareholders!

Senator GARDINER -Chiefly. The new slavery with which we are faced is that represented by' these great companies and Combines obtaining control of the food supplies of the people; and we are helping them by shutting out competition, including that of New Zealand, Canada, and Britain. And what do we get in return? I dare say good employment is afforded for some of our own people; but what, at the same time, do we shut out. We take away employment from all those wharf labourers, shipping people, and others, who would be engaged in trading with other nations. This is the first time I have had an opportunity to say this, and I- could not refrain from taking advantage of it. By these proposals in the Tariff, we are really enriching an already very rich company or monopoly that is world-wide in its operations, and on whose behalf it is openly said that the Tariff makes no difference so far as it is concerned. Why the Government should go out of its way to make these people richer, I cannot understand.

Question - That therequest (Senator Lynch's) be agreed to - put. The Committe divided.

Ayes . . . . . . 11

Noes . . . . . . 12

Majority...... 1



Question so resolved in the negative.

Request negatived.

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