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Wednesday, 17 August 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - When I was interrupted by the expiration of my time limit I was about to point out what was happening as the inevitable result of the application of a high Tariff in this remote corner of the world, where the natural protection is so much in favour of the manufacturers and so much against the producers.

Senator Senior - Does not the manufacturer make things for the primary producer ?

Senator LYNCH - He does; but he does not sell under stress of competition as his customers do. He makes tilings for any one who chooses to buy them, but he always fixes his price about the width of a sheet of paper below the height of the brick wall of protection built up for him. I intend to point out what is happening in other countries in the matter of distribution of population. It is recognised by public men that it is not in the interests of the Commonwealth that the population should congregate in the cities. That has a bad effect from every point of view, economically and politically. In the United 'States of America, the four leading cities are New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and St., Louis, and combined they have in the House of Representatives thirty-nine members. In Canada, the four leading cities are Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver, which combined have a representation in the House of Commons of thirty-four members.

Senator Vardon - Both these are Protectionist countries.

SenatorLYNCH. - On the item of steel, they are practically Free, Trade countries. However, in Australia, the four leading cities have a representation of twenty-eight members in the House of Representatives. This shows that, while in the United States of America the four leading cities command one-seventh of the political power, and in Canada oneeleventh, in Australia the four leading cities command one-third. In this respect, Australia is the shocking example of the world; and yet we have members of the Government outwardly and professedly approving a Tariff which inwardly they condemn and deride.

Senator Wilson - The population difficulty was in existence before the present Tariff operated.

Senator LYNCH - But this Tariff is intensifying the tendency; and I wish to call a halt. If we take only the two cities of Sydney and Melbourne, we find- them exercising political influence that is bad and baneful for the future prosperity of the country. Let that fact be borne in mind, for some day the people of the Commonwealth will rise in revolt against such conditions. As I have- said, the figures quoted show that Australia is the one example of the world as regards the unequal distribution of population; and the policy of excessive Protection is calculated, not to arrest, but rather to aggravate the evil. If this were a country of old and impoverished lands," such as Belgium or Holland, I could, perhaps, understand the position; but, as a continental country of vast resources, we ought to so regulate our political management as to give the whole of the Commonwealth a chance, instead of confining our attention to the mere coastal fringe. Of course, the Melbourne Age, and other newspapers, deplore this drift to the cities, and yet I suppose they would not have a friendly word in support of what I am now saying.

The Government are seeking to impose a duty of 44s. in the preferential Tariff, while the Inter-State Commission recommended only 30s., and. in support of the present duties we have the argument raised that in Australia wages and other charges are rising; but unmindful of the fact that wages and charges are rising' in corresponding, if not greater, degree in every country in the world. I propose to move a reduction in the duty, as a reply to the sham proposal that has been submitted, for the obvious purpose of inducing honorable senators to " split the difference." Senator Duncan knows that he is asking something that is unreasonable, in the hope that honorable senators will take the course I have indicated, and thus leave the Government secure in its fortress of, 1 was going to say, imbecility. Ministers ought to give a lead to the Chamber in regard to this and other items; but they do not, because they are the advocates of a Tariff that strikes every time at the tap-roots of country interests. And in response to what? In response to a vague political cry that a change is desired in the Protectionist direction. But the only voice raised in this instance is that of Mr. Hoskins, who is not backed up by any of his fellow operators in this field of industry.

Senator Duncan - That is not correct. I have the names of many others.

Senator LYNCH - Of course, others are coming forward now that they see the drift of things- now that they see barrowloads of high duties being given out - and they are quite justified, from their point of view, in doing so. When Senator Duncan says that I am not correct in my statements, he must settle his differences, not with me, but with the Inter-State Commission, who, in their report, said that only one man asked for a duty.

Senator Duncan - On behalf of others.

Senator LYNCH - I dispute that entirely. The proposals for increased duties are only the result of an effort to introduce a Protectionist Tariff, based on the most vapoury and shadowy foundations, the effect of which must be to bring our primary industries to a standstill, or cause their decay. The 200,000 wheatgrowers of Australia are entitled to some consideration; but, so far from' their getting any, they are faced with high duties on pig iron, blooms, ingots, bar iron, and so on to harvesters. All these duties are calculated to increase the cost of the tools of trade, and of the necessary commodities for opening' up the interior of this country; there is a concatenation of Tariff proposals all depending on each other, and combining to add to the cost of the harvester and other implements required by the man on the soil. If this goes on, it means that in the long run the primary producers will have' to come into the city and find a job in the ironworks. If they cannot live in the country they must drift to the cities, perhaps to starve there. The Tariff is imposing, for the protection of Australian manufacturers, duties far beyond those of Canada, under the pretence that we are in danger of being inundated by importations from other countries, although, as a matter of fact, we are exporting to other countries, and the returns show that the 'balance of trade is in our favour. Honorable senators who have always an ear open to the appeals of the manufacturers, no matter how flimsy their pretext, show no inclination to listen, to the protests of those in. the back-country, who could not, if they wished to do. so,, and would not, if they could, waylay Min.insters and members to ask for exorbitant imposts for their own benefit. A false step ha3 been taken in this matter, and we shall have; to pay. for. it. Senator Duncan's proposal is an ingenious device, like that presented during the discussion of the sugar duties, the intention, of which is to get the Committee to vote for a middle course, and. thus to maintain the Government's proposals. I intend to propose a reduction, although I have not the least hope of carrying it. I stood for Protection at a time when many of the representatives, of this Chamber were against me, and the result was to throw hundreds of thousands of pounds into the coffers of the manufacturers of the eastern States. What did my State gain thereby? Nothing. But I stood for the policy that was calculated to advance the interests of the Commonwealth on rational lines. Now, without abandoning my earlier Protectionist principles, I ask for consideration of the, interests of a State whose area is that of one-third of the Commonwealth. These have hitherto counted for nothing in this Chamber. The appeals I have received from persons in urban centres, asking for higher duties, would fill a horse-stall; but to the credit of Western Australia be it said, that although it has some young industries, no appeal has co'me from the people of that State. That shows their independence. They are prepared to stand alone, instead of whimpering, cap in hand, for duties that are not required. Some honorable senators are saying to the ironmasters, "You do not know your business when you do not ask for higher duties, but we intend to give you them." Of course, under1 those circumstances, the duties are accepted. I intend to move for a duty of 34s. per ton, which will be an advance on the Inter-State Commission's recommendations.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN(Western the eloquent appeal of the able gentleman who is my colleague in the representation of Western Australia. He is right in saying that the people of that State have not asked for high duties, such as the manufacturers of Victoria and New South Wales are constantly demanding. We find, their representatives in the galleries, and standing about the lobbies, imploring assistance in a way that the people of Western Australia could not imitate even if they wished, to do so.

Senator Lynch - They would not do it.

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