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Tuesday, 16 August 1921

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia) - An extraordinary fact to which I have previously drawn attention is that whenever high Protectionists like the Minister , in charge ofthe Bill (Senator Russell) find themselves up against facts and figures, they trot out a bogy, and proceed at once to demolish it. The Minister, with his usual astuteness, has done so on this occasion.

Senator Russell - Is the question of exchangeamere bogy?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN -It is so far as the request immediately before the Chair is concerned. We havebefore us a motion to requestthe House of Representatives . to reduce the duty under the British preferential Tariff from 20s. to 15s.per ton, and I understand that ifthat request is agreed to, we cannot then move a request to reduce the rate under the general Tariff. If we had desired to reduce or increase the duty underthe general Tariff, we should have submitted such a proposition before proceeding to move a request in regard to the British preferential Tariff. I am not aware that any honorable senator has yet suggested any alteration of the duty of 40s.per ton under the general Tariff. That being so, the question of exchange so astutely advanced by theMinister is a mere bogy. The exchange position to which he refers does not obtain as between Australia and Great Britain.The honorable senator has told us that over 60 per cent, of our imports of this commodity recently have come from China and India. What has that fact to do with the proposition now before the Chair, namely, that the British rate, and not the rate of duty applying to imports from China and India, shall be reduced from 20s. to 15s. per ton?

Senator Russell - But consider what our importsfrom Great Britain were before the war.


There is no need to do so. The only question before the Chair is whether a request shall be made to the House of Representatives to reduce the duty under the British preferential Tariff, so that all these bogys which the high Protectionists trot out and demolish with so much vigour - and the Minister (Senator Russell) is an absolute champion in this regard - count for nothing. Can honorable senators think of a bigger red herring that could be drawn across this trail than the exchange position between, say, Australia and Germany to-day. It has absolutely nothing to do with the question beforeus. This question is merely whether we are going to give the iron industry of Australia - the producers of the raw product - a greater measure of protection against Great Britain and Great Britain alone.

Senator Russell - ?But the whole division is based on sub-item a, which relates to pig iron.

Senator DRAKEBROCKMAN.Thatis entirely beside the question. It does not affect the exchange position as between Australia and Great Britain. I rose merely to draw attention to this wonderful red herring which the Minister has drawn across the trail in order to catch the sympathies of honorable senators. I agree almost entirely Avith everything he has said Avith regard to that particular matter, but it does not affect the proposition before the Committee. We have to decide whether a duty of 15s. per ton will afford sufficient protection to the Australian producers of this raw material, or whether the rate should be 20s. I accept the premises laid down by Senator Earle, knowing perfectly well that in the present temper of honorable senators I could not prevail if I attempted what I feel very much inclined to do, and that is to

WiDe out the duty altogether. I accept the situation that what Ave require is sufficient protection against Great Britain, but not more than sufficient, and I think I demonstrated, when I Avas on my feet before, that a duty of 15s. is sufficient to meet the requirements of those who practise and preach those particular principles which have been enunciated so clearly OVer and over again in this Chamber, and emphasized once more to-night by Senator Earle. Therefore, I urge honorable senators not to be drawn off the trail by this red herring of exorbitant exchanges, but to keep to the real point at issue, namely, that a duty of 15s. is sufficient protection against Great Britain, and that our manufacturers of this raw material do not require any higher rate.

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