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Tuesday, 8 June 1926

Senator McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - And are worth more than railways, because of the useful purpose which they serve. I may mention that not long ago, a man brought wool from Nyrilco, a station property near Broken Hill, to Elder Smith and Company's wool store in Adelaide, by motor traction, and returned with very little back loading, for less than the South Australian railways could take it from Broken Hill to Port Adelaide.

SenatorCrawford. - He did not do that over a road that cost £8,000 or £12,000 a mile.

Senator McLACHLAN - No; he travelled over what is probably one of the roughest roads in the Commonwealth - a road that is almost impassable after rain. Something done for the development of our country areas, and road-making seems to me to be the most important. In much of our Mallee country, it is utterly impossible at certain times of the year, except under great difficulties, to do any carting, and very little stone is obtainable for road-making. We should approach the consideration of this item with an earnest desire to do our best for the development of our vast outlying areas. Road-making seems to be the best way to ensure it3 satisfactory development. In the circumstances, I feel that the 1921 tariff of 27½ per cent. British is the one which we should support. As far as I can learn, the industry seems to have made substantial headway. It has kept its head well above water. Whether the item is of such importance as to justify the circulation of a vast wealth of literature, to use Senator Lynch's words, from municipal and other local governing bodies protesting against the increased duties, is another matter, but surely some attention should be paid to their needs.

Senator Crawford - I have received no protest from my State.

Senator McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) -Probably that is because the people there know that the Minister's slogan will be " Stick to the bill," and, in this respect, he is doing his duty as a member of the Ministry. We who represent the more benighted, and certainly the more neglected, portions of the Commonwealth, view these proposed increases differently. Surely those who purchase and use road-making and cement-making machines ought to know whether the proposed duties will be instrumental in increasing the cost. We should turn a deaf ear to those who say that higher duties will lead to reduced prices. As a protectionist, I cannot accept such a statement.

Senator Grant - It is part of the policy of protection.

Senator McLACHLAN - It may be the policy of some manufacturers to reduce their prices temporarily; but municipal bodies who have control of the roads in most of the States believe that the cost of road-making machinery will be increased by these duties. Why should we who are developing the cement-making industry in this country, and using the most suitable stone for cement-making to be found anywhere, simply rest on our oars and decline to encourage the introduction of machinery that will assist in the production of cement at an advantageous price, and provide us with better roads, cheaper traction, and more satisfactory development. I regret to find that, according to Senator Lynch, a great deal of the road-making machinery now coming into Australia is imported from America. That may be so. I know of no finer roads than those of old England.

Senator Reid - Made by the Romans.

Senator McLACHLAN - Those I have in mind were made, not by the Romans, but by Britons. They are bituminous roads scientifically constructed principally of Trinidad asphalt, which is a British product. Machinery is playing a more important part in the development of roads in the Old World than the Minister would haveus believe, but it may be that American machinery is more adaptable to the roads being constructed there. Our development is more likely to be in the direction of cement roads than is the case in America, although there are some in that country constructed entirely of cement. The development of Australian roads has not been altogether satisfactory, and, apart from Tasmania, I know of no State in which we can say we have even what are classified in England as B or second-grade roads. I do not intend to support reducing the preference to Britain, as suggested by Senator Payne, but will support the request moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham).

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