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Wednesday, 17 August 1921

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) .. - I have to confess that I do not entirely appreciate the justification^ f or a deferred duty. At one stage of the Minister's remarks I thought I was beginning to learn something about its justification, but before he concluded that belief was dispelled. The honorable senator has pointed out that the date of operation, of the deferred duty depends upon the readiness of the local manufacturers to reasonably supply Australian requirements for these goods.

Senator Russell - That is so.

Senator KEATING - But to make such an announcement in such a form in this schedule is to invite importers to stock up in the meantime, and then, when the local, manufacturer- is ready to take advantage of the duty - and supply Australian requirements,- he will find that the Australian requirements- for his goods are nil. They will have been already provided for in anticipation of the operation of the duty. Here we are giving notice to importers that after the 1st of January next if they wish to import goods classified under this sub-item they will have to pay duty upon them at the rates specified in the .schedule.

Senator Russell - We admit that.

Senator KEATING - That- is a plain intimation to them to stock up in- the meantime, perhaps for years to .come, and then', when the local manufacturers, who have, been induced to lay out all the money, which has been- referred to. in the establishment of this industry, are in the position to supply. Australian requirements, they will find no market for their goods. For this reason I cannot support the request made by Senator DrakeBrockman that the House of Representatives should be requested to defer the operation of the- duty for another' two years. If I understood the Minister aright, he informed us that the firm to which he has referred' was. able to supply Australian requirements in. May last.

Senator Russell - .That was for galvanized iron.

Senator KEATING - Is the firm, protected in the meantime in their production of galvanized iron?

Senator Russell - No; it is under a deferred duty.

Senator KEATING - Although the firm, was prepared to supply the article in reasonable quantities as far back as May last? That is an absurd anomaly in this schedule. If this were a scientific Protectionist Tariff, this firm should be enjoying the advantage of its protection now in the manufacture of galvanized iron.

Senator Russell - I was going to deal with that matter, but my time had expired.

Senator KEATING - I shall not speak at anything like the length at which the Minister did, and I think that he should have drawn attention to these matters, and should have given some reason, for deferring the duty on galvanized, iron for the last several months, to say nothing of a possible further two years and six. months. If a proposal were made to immediately impose duties on galvanized iron, I should support it, because the Minister has informed us that local manufacturers of the article have been in a position to supply .reasonable requirements of it since May last. For the reasons I have given, I do not on principle support deferred duties.

Senator Lynch - -Does the . honorable senator not think that the splendid uncertainty of action by the Government in imposing these duties affords a morsel of comfort to the consumers?

Senator KEATING - The splendid uncertainty referred to by Senator Lynch is added to by another, and that is the uncertainty of the1 coming into existence of- the authority upon whose recommendation the Minister is. to take his uncertain action.

Senator Payne - How is the date when the deferred duty is to come into operation arrived at!

Senator KEATING - The Minister says that it is arrived at by a consideration of the period within which the local manufacturers will be in a. position to reasonably supply the requirements of the local market. They were in the position to do that in respect of galvanized iron as far back as May last, and that would have justified the imposition of these duties on galvanized iron since that date. The danger in connexion with deferred duties is the invitation they offer to the world outside to send in goods during the period before which they come into operation. For this reason I cannot see my way to support a proposal to defer the operation of these duties beyond the date indicated in the schedule, and so I am unable to support Senator DrakeBrockman's request to defer their operation to the later date. In my view, it is quite foreign to the principle of Protection to defer the operation of a duty for one day longer than can reasonably be avoided.

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