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Tuesday, 23 August 1921

Senator SENIOR (South Australia) . - Since we are dealing with prices, I propose to put on record a statement showing that a fall in the price of Australian agricultural machinery has taken place here since 1st January last. I have here a statement by a reputable manufacturer carrying on operations in Victoria in which he compares prices on 1st January last with those operating on 1st July last.

Senator Duncan - What is the name of the manufacturer?

Senator SENIOR - Mr. Hugh V. McKay. This list, which will go side by side with that read by Senator Gardiner, so that readers of Hansard will be able to compare tha two, is as follows -


Senator Duncan - What is the honorable senator trying 'to prove ?

Senator SENIOR - That prices have fallen during the discussion of the Tariff in this Parliament, and even prior to its introduction in the Senate". This list shows that the prices are in favour of Australian manufacturers as compared with their competitors. It is an answer to the argument so often raised that Pro,tection tends to increase prices, and I regret that I was not allowed to complete it without interruption. In every case, there has been a, distinct fall.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - It may merely represent a movement in prices. The prices of clothing, boots, and many other things have fallen.

Senator SENIOR - It is impossible to satisfy the honorable senator. He complains when it is shown that prices have risen, and he is equally dissatisfied when a fall in prices is demonstrated. It has been contended again and again that the imposition of protective duties leads ultimately to increased prices. This disproves that assertion.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - But the Tariff has had nothing to do with the fall in prices to which the honorable senator refers.

Senator SENIOR - The honorable senator cannot claim that the imposition of these duties has raised the cost of agricultural machinery to the farmers. That is the point I am making.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Prices have fallen because of the competition from outside.

Senator SENIOR - There seems to have been an intentional suppression of evidence of this kind.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - The honorable senator says that prices have fallen. To prove his contention, he should compare the present-day prices with those prevailing in 1914.

Senator SENIOR - I think that prices at the beginning of January last were as high as we have ever known them to be.

Senator Drake-Brockman - The honorable senator means that they were unduly inflated.

Senator SENIOR - The figures I am quoting have not been prepared for Senate consumption only. The following are the respective prices for grain and fertilizer drills combined with spring tyne cultivator : -


Senator Gardineralso quoted prices for disc ploughs, and, therefore, it is only right that I should place on record H. V. McKay's price at 1st January and 1st July of this year -


In every instance the price during the six months has been reduced. Therefore, it cannot be argued that prospective duty was responsible for an increase in price. On the contrary, there has been a reduction, because the larger output has enabled the manufacturers to spread the overhead charges over a larger volume of trade. It may be stated, of course, that Western Australian and Queensland farmers do not enjoy these factory prices. This is due to their geographical position. The Tariff itself is an honest attempt to build up Australian industries to the advantage of the entire community.

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