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Thursday, 18 August 1921

Senator EARLE (Tasmania) - [9.3iLLike .Senator Payne, I recognise, the ixa- 'portance of this material to' the- farmer and grazier, and. I am anxious -that it should be supplied to them at a reasonable price. Wire netting is an absolute necessity for the protection of.. Australian pastures and crops against . the - inroads of the rabbit post' Honorable senators who have visited the Federal Capital have no doubt been struck by the remarkable evidence there-' of the' value- of wire net ting. On' ohe side, of a wire netting' fencethere is' ample pasture, and- on the "other side desolation 'brought -about by rabbits.. It may he' well to be -able, during certain; periods- in 'our history,' to: obtain' .a -few1 thousand tons of this material at 'a. low: price, but the only effective' way to Saf e guard the interests :of our primary 'pro-' doers'' is to encourage the manufacture of the material in this country.. Aus-, tralia should, he self-contained in regard to the manufacture of essential commo,dities. As far as I ban learn, the . duty asked by the Government is necessary, to enable the manufacturers pf wire netting, to carry on. In this matter we haVe,. of course,- to. accept, -the representations -made by the manufacturers themselves. .The; users of. wire .netting may have to .pay a .little .more thun is reasonable, for the' product if we 'are misled, 'bat. that, willi be better than to have the industry destroyed. When the schedule -is passed, and the Tariff is actually in operation, the Tariff Board will be authorized, in certain circumstances,. to. make inquiries and ascertain whether, in consequence of the7 high duties imposed 'in certain- items,- -manufacturers are charging tpo much for their products The -Board -will - then recommend to' the Minister, and 'the Minister to Parliament, that the duty be immediately reduced commensurate ' with' ' the' value of the article concerned.

Senator Bolton - I hope the Tariff Board will do it§ duty.

Senator EARLE -I hope. so, too. I have told honorable 'senators 'over and over again that unless -we do. something to control manufacturers, the people of thiscountrywilloccasionallbeex- rj^|'ed$ bu't' ^a^i^'^^'^anger^ sent itself,Ido not intend,for that reason, to run the risk of ruining any of pur great industries.I want to see such industries established, because by means of the Tariff Board we can control them, whereas if we have todepend on the importer we shall be powerless to do anything in that direction: '

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Do you know that in New South Wales Judge Beeby is trying tocontrol prices?

Senator EARLE - I know that a spasmodic effort has been made- to control the price of certain commodities, , but I should be sorry to have to admit that the people of1 Australia are not sufficiently intelligent to devise means by which they may prevent the exploitation . of any sec- tionof the community.

Senatorde Largie. - Have you forgotten the Harvester case.?

SenatorEARLE .-The difficulty in that' case was due to our constitutional position'.

Senator de Largie - Andhe same conditions exist to-day,so where is the remedy?

Senator EARLE -Our remedy is to appealto thepeople for an alteration of the Constitution..

Senatorde Largie. - Have we not done that?

Senator EARLE - Yes, and the people answered in the negative; bub we know very well the influences that were at work then. But do we intend to do nothing ? Must we confess ourselves impotent, to secure an amendment of the Constitution to allow this Parliament to wjact logislation to prevent the. exploitation: of the people? If we are to take that view, then I am a Free Trader, and would, say, "Let them allcome." But. we should not' take up that position. Our clear duty, is to insure- the establishment of essential industries, and ' to point out to the . people how necessary it is, incertain . circumstances, to -have the power to protect the interests id the entire community. I am going to vote for the Tariff as it stands. I am as anxious as any other honorable senator to asEiB't the land, workers,, andmywish is to protect them . by the establishment at these, industries for. the production of all their requirements rather than mailing, it qecjessary . for them to. import from overseas .

SenatorSENIOR (South Australia) [9.39]. - . This wire . is not./madeas . we have heard, from imported wire. it is. manufactured from : rods 'upon, whioh'^ under another- item, there is a Tarifl' of; 44s." 'per ton- ' ' Therefore, '. the 'proposed' Tariff of 55s", oil wire netting imported! from Great Britain provides a margin of only lis. per ton as' a protection on the local industry for drawing the wire' from the rodB and making it up' into wire net-, ting. Do honorable senators think that' is sufficient?

Senator Wilson - I do.

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