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Wednesday, 24 August 1921

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Repatriation) . - I do not propose to traverse the arguments adduced by Senator Gardiner so far as they affect the merits and demerits of the Tariff proposals; but I feel disposed to say a word or two regarding the he has made to create the impression that by giving an assurance to the Sunshine Harvester Company the Government conferred a special benefit Upon one firm. It should be clearly understood that the Government did not give any guarantee, because any duties that may have been mentioned would be subject to the approval of Parliament. If the suggested duties are considered to be too high, honorable senators can reduce them. If they believe that these implements should be admitted free, they can move accordingly. Senator Gardiner referred to this proposal as if it were a nefarious act, and suggested that one firm had been given a special privilege. That is contrary to fact. The Sunshine Harvester Company knew that it was competent for Parliament to modify or remove the proposed duties, and it took the risk. But other firms could enter the business after Parliament had adopted these duties without any risk at all. They could then invest their capital in the enterprise with absolute certainty.

Senator Gardiner - The Sunshine Harvester Company could import their material beforehand, because they knew that certain duties would be imposed.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Most of the material used in the manufacture of these machines is made in Australia, although some of the webbing may be imported. The Sunshine Harvester Company, after going into the matter, was prepared to invest £85,000, and to incur a risk which their competitors have not incurred. These simply had to sit down and wait to see if Parliament would vote this protection. If Parliament did not, they would not invest their money. The Sunshine Harvester' Company have not been given any private advantage, but have incurred a liability due in all probability to their business enterprise, and their belief that public sentiment having approved of a Protectionist policy," Parliament would give a reasonable measure of protection to this industry. They have incurred the risk. That is not any reason why Parliament should approve these duties; but it relieves the Government of any suggestion that they have given an advantage to one manufacturer that was not afforded to every other manufacturer in the Commonwealth.

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