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Thursday, 3 June 1926

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) .- I have listened with interest, but I cannot say with very much pleasure, to the remarks of honorable senators from the island State on tariff matters, and I have come to the- conclusion that though they are big men physically, they are little Australians from the view-point of industry. It would do them good to travel. They seem to have a restricted vision and a very narrow outlook. They are a band of pessimists. I have not heard one honorable senator from Tasmania boost Australia, her industries, or her commodities. I have listened patiently for such a boost from them, but although they are nearly all of Australian birth, instead of trying to give Australian industries a lift, and Australian goods a boost, they decry them.

Senator Payne - I have not done so.

Senator FINDLEY - They say that the quality is not in Australian goods.

Senator Payne - Who said that?

Senator FINDLEY - I have heard more than one Tasmanian senator say that the quality of Australian goods is not equal to that of imported goods. Senator Payne would make some honorable senators believe that he is here for the special purpose of safeguarding and watching the interests of the poorer section of the community. Does he belong to the Labour party ?

Senator Payne - No, I belong to the workers.

Senator FINDLEY - The honorable senator belongs to any class that will give him support. I can quite well understand Tasmania's backward position. The representatives of the State in tho Senate seem to have no ginger in them. There is no fight in thom. If they had shown the same tenacity of purpose for the establishment of Australian industries, and for boosting Australian commodities, as they have shown in an effort to decry them, they would have told Mr. Bruce and the Bruce-Page Government distinctly at the last election, " We must have the newsprint industry established in Tasmania or we shall not support you." Had they adopted that attitude, I am satisfied they would now have in operation in Tasmania one of the biggest industries in Australia. But what did they do? They were advised to follow Mr. Bruce. They were fighting some imaginary "ism."

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Newlands - Will the honorable senator now devote his attention to the sub-item.

Senator FINDLEY - Yea. We are dealing with a portion of the tariff which is of moment to a big section of the community, and which has helped materially the establishment of factories in different parts of Australia. In those factories there are 40,000 employees engaged as the result of the imposition of duties on the goods that have from time to time come into Australia.

Senator J B Hayes - We are not interfering with the duties that gave those hands employment.

Senator FINDLEY - No. But the proposal now is to increase the duties and reduce further importations, so as to provide further employment in Australia. Some honorable senators are prone to look at protective duties from the figure standpoint only. It is true that the rates of duty proposed are higher than those imposed a few years ago, but everything else is higher. A few years ago the salary received by members of this Parliament was £600. Now it is £1,000. Houses that were let at 10s. and 12s. 6d. a week are to-day 25s. and 30s. a week. Bates of interest have doubled. Land values have doubled. Duties of 30 and 40 per cent., which seemed high a few years ago, are to-day not excessively high, because of the changed conditions industrially, commercially, and financially. In any case, that section of the community which Senator Payne is anxious to help in this chamber, had its opportunity to appear before the Tariff Board and state its case. It availed itself of that opportunity, as did the manufacturers. The board came forward with recommendations which the Government has embodied in this schedule.

Senator Lynch - All of them?

Senator FINDLEY - Yes, so far as these items are concerned. When Senator Lynch says that there is one section of the community which receives no advantage from the tariff schedule I ask him what section that is.

Senator Lynch - The honorable senator knows very well what it is.

Senator FINDLEY - I know of no section in Australia that is not advantaged directly or indirectly by the protectionist policy of the Commonwealth, and when the honorable senator claims that the man on the land owes nothing to the fiscal policy of the country he is not thinking seriously of the statement he makes. Every section of the primary producers has been assisted by this Parliament since it came into existence.

Senator Ogden - The honorable senator has a wonderful imagination.

Senator FINDLEY - I have not. Has not this Parliament assisted the pastoralists by granting bounties ? Has it not assisted the orchardists ?

Senator Ogden - The honorable senator was speaking of the assistance given by the protectionist policy.

Senator FINDLEY - There is very little difference between the imposition of a duty and the. granting of a bounty.

Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow - The pastoralists are not receiving a bounty at the present time.

Senator FINDLEY - But they did receive a bounty from this Government. Orchardists and dairymen have received bounties.

Senator J B Hayes - . When did the dairymen receive a bounty?

Senator FINDLEY - What was the butter bonus if it was not a bounty?

Senator J B Hayes - That bonus was given prior to federation.

Senator FINDLEY - Yes, but the fact remains that the dairymen were assisted in that direction. The man on the land has had railways built in his interests, railways which in some cases have never paid. The cost has not been borne solely by the man on the land who, Senator Lynch says, has a heavy burden and carries it himself, never asking any other section of the community to help him. Every other section of the community has cheerfully paid its share of the cost of these non-paying railways. Large irrigation schemes costing millions of pounds have been undertaken on behalf of the primary producers. Ports and harbours have been built mainly in the interests of the primary producers. Agricultural departments, the cost of which runs into thousands of pounds, in the various states, have placed at the disposal of the primary producers some of the most scientific brains in Australia, and the expense incidental to the maintenance and upkeep of these departments is borne by the whole community and not by the man on the land alone. A Credit Foncier system has been established in the interests of farmers . Every Government is anxious for the prosperity and welfare of the man on the land, and, in times of drought and adversity, he is not driven off his holding as he would be under some landlords, but is given breathing-time.

Senator Ogden - Has all this anything to do with overcoats?

Senator FINDLEY - It has a lot. to do with the tariff. These advantages, which are reaped by the man on the land, would not be possible but for the existence of secondary industries in different parts of Australia.

Senator Andrew - Where would the country be if it were not for the man on the land, who furnishes 97 per cent, of Australia's export trade?

Senator FINDLEY - How would the man on the land reach the overseas markets but for the secondary industries? Would he take his produce to the seaport by bullock wagons? It is absurd to suggest that the primary producer is independent of any other section of the community. Without secondary industries we should have little or no population here, and the primary producer could not live without population.

TheCH AIRMAN . - The honorable senator is getting right away from the sub-item.

Senator FINDLEY - Senator Lynch was permitted to talk about the burdens of the man on the land, and to claim that he got no advantage from any Government by way of protection, and I was endeavouring to show that he had received a direct and indirect advantage as the result of the protectionist policy in force in Australia to-day.

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