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Wednesday, 14 March 1928

Senator KINGSMILL (Western Australia) . - This item certainly does not commend itself to me. As Senator Carroll has stated, the proposed new duties on steel rails weighing 50 lb. per yard and over, will be paid by State governments, . because few if any private enterprises use rails of that weight. Western Australia is a State of huge distances and railways are urgently needed to insure its development on satisfactory lines. . These increased duties, added to the other, two curses o£ Australia - the Navigation Act and the administration of the Arbitration Act - particularly affect that State. The administration of the Arbitration Act makes the manufacture of iron and steel in New South Wales extremely difficult, and has been responsible for a substantial increase in the price of the finished product. So far as Western Australia is concerned the effect of the Navigation Act is that by the time freight is paid from Newcastle to any port in Western Australia, the cost of the article is almost out of reach. The development of primary industries in that State is being seriously interfered with. I am not satisfied with either the item or the explanation of the Minister, and I do not see how any representative of Western Australia can vote for it. The succeeding items are almost worse. When an honorable senator or an honorable member of another place is unwilling to consent to the raising of any duty to an exorbitant rate - as is proposed in this and other cases - the tendency is to allude to him as a freetrader. I should characterize as ultra protectionists those who advocate such high duties.

Senator Thompson - - They are new protectionists.

Senator KINGSMILL - They are not new protectionists. Advocates of that policy seek to dictate the ratio in which the spoils shall be divided among employers and employees, the public suffering all the time. Whenever a duty such as that now before the committee is proposed the friends of honorable senators who sit opposite are to be found awaiting its passage so that they may get a " cut " out of the increase. That is a wrong policy. We are building around Australia a wall which is steadily isolating us from the rest of the world. Far from doing good, it will ultimately make us the laughing stock of every other country. The proposed duty that we are now considering is a most iniquitous one, particularly in relation to its effect upon Western Australia. I cannot support it.

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