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Thursday, 22 March 1928

Senator CARROLL (Western Australia) . - I am sorry that Senator Chapman did not submit a request for a reduction in the duties on this item. If the honorable senator does move in that direction, he will have my support. I agree with Senator Lynch that in the framing of these duties the interests of the consumer have been entirely overlooked. People settled in. the agricultural areas of Western Australia are obliged to make provision for the conservation of water, otherwise they run the' risk of failure. The Government of that State is committed to an extensive scheme of water conservation, and accordingly it must purchase large supplies of iron pipes for the delivery of water to the various outlying areas. If these higher duties are agreed to the primary producer will again be penalized in the interests of the local manufacturers, because the State Government will be obliged to pay higher prices for the pipes and the farmers who purchase from the Government on long terms, will be called upon to meet additional capital expenditure, together with interest. The Minister (Senator Crawford) has assured us that these increased duties will not mean an increase in the price of iron pipes. I have never yet known manufacturers to reduce the price of their output following the imposition of protective duties. If, as the Minister has suggested, the iron and steel manufacturers wish to sell pipes more cheaply than at present, why did they make a request for higher protective duties? I feel certain that they know their own business well and, unfortunately, they know what this Senate will do in the matter of increased duties. They know that these added duties will be agreed to so as to make it possible. for them to enjoy higher profits. If an industry cannot carry on with a protection of 40 per cent.,- it should not be encouraged.

Senator Chapman - This 40 per cent, is only the starting point.

Senator CARROLL - Over and over again in the past representatives of various Labour organizations have declared that if an industry is not able to provide fair wages and employment under reasonable conditions, it should not be encouraged. As a matter of fact, with the exception of the wheat and wool production, no industry in Australia is in that favorable position. All have, at times, appealed to Parliament for protection, and in doing so have admitted that without assistance they would go to the wall. Those connected with secondary industries know that if they approach Parliament for protection, they will get a sympathetic hearing and be given all the assistance they ask for. In many instances the assistance is given without consideration of the effect which the duties will have on the people generally. It is the business of every Government, and I think this Government recognizes it, to hold the scales as evenly as possible between, the different sections in the community. I regret, however, that by its action in connexion with these duties, the Government is not observing its obligations. Every vessel that leaves Fremantle for the north-west coast ports of Western Australia is heavily laden with, iron pipes for water conservation purposes, because without such facilities it is impossible to occupy the pastoral areas profitably. If the owner of a run is lucky enough on putting down a well on his property to discover a good supply of water he considers it a better proposition to lay pipes to distant parts of his run for the watering of his stock than to incur the expense of searching for other supplies which, when located, might prove to be indifferent. It is important, therefore, that these water pipes should be available at a reasonable price, in order that the stockcarrying capacity of our pastoral areas may be increased. We heard a good deal during the debate yesterday about the value of the rabbit industry to Australia. I venture to say that all the revenue that might be received from rabbits and rabbit skins for countless years would never-:recoup the people of Australia the loss' which they have incurred owing to the pest. The pastoral industry is much more valuable to Australia, and I appeal to honorable sena- tors not to impose further taxation upon it in the form of these increased duties. I sincerely hope that Senator

Chapman will move the request for au amendment that he has foreshadowed.

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