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Thursday, 19 June 1902

Mr L E GROOM (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) - In their immediate operations these trusts are capable of doing,- and are doing, great injury; and various, remedies have been suggested.When we come to deal with the question of State enterprise, we are faced with incidental difficulties. A State which entered on the iron industry would practically supply other States. Although a State would be able to have a monopoly of manufacture within its own area, it is very doubtful whether it could prevent the importation of articles similar to those manufactured by the State. That, however, is only an incidental difficulty ; and we ought to give the States the preference for a period of at least two years, the period of one year suggested by the Minister for Trade and Customs being absolutely useless. It is not merely a matter of passing a Bill, but sufficient time should be given to the States to consider the questions as to the raising of the necessary capital, the selection of the site, and other details. The compromise suggested by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports meets the objection of the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, in regard to the extension of the Bill to 1904. Until after the next general election no private firm would be able to take advantage of the bonuses, which during that period would be open to the States only. I sincerely hope the Minister and the honorable member for Bland will see their way to accept the suggestion of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports,which, although a compromise, does not ask anyone to give up a principle.

Mr Fowler - It gives the principle away at the end of two years.

Mr L E GROOM (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) - At the end of two years the matter is open for reconsideration, and the general election will afford an opportunity for the views of the public to be ascertained. The Minister, as I understand, desires that the large stores of iron, which are found in almost every State, shall be utilized in giving employment to our own people, and the question arises how these stores and the labour can be brought into relationwith each other. The Minister believes that the proper way is to give bonuses, open to both the States and private individuals, but other honorable members hold that the iron industry, which lies at the foundation of so many other industries, should be within the controlof the States. Here the honorable member for Melbourne Ports steps in with his suggestion. We cannot dictate to the States the policy which they should pursue, but there is nothing to prevent the Commonwealth laying down what they believe to be a fair and reasonable scheme, of which the States may take advantage. We all desire to encourage the development of our resources-' in the most enlightened way, and the suggestion of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports offers alternative opportunities. During the next few years hard conditions will prevail in Australia. A vast amount of our capital has been destroyed by drought, and to a certain extent occupation of the land will be discouraged. A large number of men are in want of employment, and there is no desire that our population should leave us. Every encouragement should be given to people to stay within our borders, and there is no better form of encouragement than that proposed to be afforded in the development of the iron industry.

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