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Tuesday, 23 August 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - As a parting word, may I be permitted to say that this part of the schedule concerns the whole of the Commonwealth? It covers every variety of implement required in connexion with agricultural enterprise, from the large wheatgrower in the interior to the smallest agriculturist in the more closely-settled areas. Honorable senators should re member that if they have their minds fixed on altering item after item by making the duties higher and higher, they will produce the same result as they did in the case of wire netting, when, by piling on a little each time - until the good sense of the Committee realized that a halt was necessary - they produced an anomaly which is hard to overcome. I desire to preserve, if possible, some semblance of order in this very ill-ordered and ill-balanced production - the Tariff.

Mention has been made of the necessity of fostering British trade, and I yield to none in that desire. But I want to point out to Senator Bolton that, in maintaining high duties against Canada and the United States of America, and to reducing the impost against British importations by 5 per cent., he would be making the disproportion as between 17£ per cent, and 35 per cent, equal to 100 per cent. Previous Tariffs made no such disparity, as the duties were in the neighbourhood of 15 per cent, and 20 per cent. In this instance, some honorable senators desire to pile up higher and higher duties on British importations, and also on American, without any adequate reason. According to the statement of the Minister (Senator Pearce), it does not matter in this particular item, because one ship will accommodate all the importations from Great Britain. If that is so, we shall be giving a preference that will be of no use whatever. It will be merely a placard. I direct Senator Pratten's attention particularly to the fact that preference has been given where it is of no consequence.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Not in the total figures.

Senator LYNCH - The importations from Great Britain are less by one-half than those from the United States of America and Canada, and the inescapable position will be that we will increase the price to those using American and Canadian implements to an extraordinarily high degree. We are " outTariffing " every previous effort, and are reaching the high-water mark by making a difference of 100 per cent, in the duties on imports from the Old Country as compared with those from the United States of America and Canada.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - According to the figures for 1919-20, Great Britain exported 25 per cent. of the total.

Senator Pearce - In connexion with this particular item, the importations from Great Britain were valued at £7,700, and from Canada at £3,200.

Senator LYNCH - We have been including harvesters with other agricultural implements, and the Minister has been as big an offender as any one else.

Senator Pearce - Thefigures I gave relating to imports were in connexion with this item only.

SenatorLYNCH. - According to the Commonwealth Tear-Book, the imports as compared with local manufacture have been- 1913, 25 per cent.; 1914, 26 per cent.; 1915, 28 per cent.; 1916, 19 per cent. ; 1917, 25 per cent. ; 1918, 32 per cent. In 1918 there was an increase due, perhaps, to causes which can be explained. The general result is that the proportion of agricultural implements of every class imported is about 25 per cent., as against 75 per cent. produced in Australia under the old Tariff.

Senator Pearce - With the war in progress.

Senator LYNCH - If we are not prepared to allow American and Canadian manufacturers to compete in the Australian market we had better make the rates still higher.

Senator Bolton - They can export to Australia under the intermediate Tariff.

Senator LYNCH - We are thrown back on that again. The question we have to ask ourselves is this: If we are not prepared to give Canada, the United States of America, and Sweden a paltry 25 per cent. of our trade, the Government are not only justified in imposing a duty of 25 per cent., but should make it 100 per cent. I say deliberately that if we want to keep our manufacturers in this country up to scratch - as the wheat-growers, dairymen, orchardists, and other primary producers are by the fierce blast of competition - the overseas manufacturers should receive, at least, 25 per cent. of our trade That is the question. How can a duty of 35 per cent. be justified? Only one section of the community will suffer - the users - because the manufacturers in the Commonwealth will keep their prices just below those charged by the importers.

Senator Bolton - Then, will a reduction of 5 per cent. make any difference?

Senator LYNCH - I do not suppose it will. I have submitted it because I am craving only for a morsel. Do honorable senators realize what is happening? Does the Minister realize what is happening in Western Australia in connexion with one industry using implements imported under a 35 per cent. duty ? There are 600 idle farms in Western Australia, on which the saplings are growing as high as the roof of this chamber. That is no compliment to our country. If there are any people in the Commonwealth who could work those farms they are the people in Western Australia to-day.

Senator Bolton - That is due to want of rain, not to want of implements.

Senator LYNCH - Those farms are lying idle, and the honorable senator can take them up. I shall give the Committee the benefit of some balance-sheets later on. We have not, so far, been given any manufacturer's balance-sheet. I will give one, later on, which will make the hair stand on honorable senators' heads. Wait till Senator Yardon gets amongst the farmers in the dry areas beyond the Gwydir line of rainfall and they ask him why he voted for these increased duties.

Senator Vardon - I shall tell them why.

Senator LYNCH - I hope the honorable senator will be satisfied with the reception he will get in the dry areas.

Senator Vardon - I shall be satisfied.

Senator LYNCH - If we consider it a fair thing to shut out all importations of these machines from Australia let us do it and be done with it. We have been told from the Ministerial bench that when an industry is supplying 25 per cent. of our requirements it may be said to be established. This industry is supplying 75 per cent. of our requirements, which is very creditable indeed, and yet wehave honorable senators blindly voting to shut out the other 25 per cent. of these machines which are the product of the only manufacturers who are keeping ours up to the "scratch." Something has been said about the wages paid here and about the International Harvester , Trust. I am going to put the financial position of the International Harvester Trust before the Committee. This has not yet been done in the case of any of the Australian competitors of the International Harvester Trust.

Senator Pearce - We have not been allowed to discuss harvesters yet.

Senator LYNCH - The honorable senator has spoken twice on this matter.

Senator Pearce - We have not yet reached harvesters. When we do I shall have some facts concerning them to put before the Committee.

Senator LYNCH - This matter was mentioned by Senator Pratten, and I say that if the International Harvester Trust is the very devil himself we should give even the devil his due. The International Harvester Trust is established here. Its productions are in our market. The machines produced by the International Harvester Trust, as well as those made by Canadian firms, are slightly higher in price than the locally-made harvester; and that is because of the superiority of the imported machines in the estimation of those who buy them. There is no doubt at all about that. Are we any worse off if men will buy imported machines because, in their opinion as practical men, they are better than the locally-made article? The Government proposal is to shut those imported machines out, and' if honorable senators generally believe that we should close our doors against these imports, let us do so definitely and be done with it. Let us say at once that we shall close our. doors against these interlopers in the field of industry, if that is the policy of this country. I say, advisedly, that I am sorry that we have not a practical farmer on the Ministerial bench to get up and speak on these items. If we had one farming on a large scale, and dependent upon it entirely and not running anything else as a side line, such a proposal as this would never be submitted to the Committee.

Senator Pearce - Then he would not be a member of the Government.

Senator LYNCH - No. He would have more sense.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap - The honorable senator's time has expired.

Senator Lynch - I want just to quote a few figures regarding wages.

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable senator's time has expired, and the standing order is inexorable.

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