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Thursday, 31 July 1902

Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania) - I hope I shall be able to justify the position I intend to take up on" this question. When we had the iron duties before us, I systematically voted against them as a freetrader. I am going to vote for these bonuses, believing that, for the encouragement of a great national industry such as this, which is beyond comparison with those minor ones which employ each some two or three hundred men - an industry which will employ its thousands - we may very well provide a bonus, the extent of which we know, and of the term of operation of which we are aware. The honorable member for Lang has criticised the Minister because he has not come down with further information to show how this proposal will work. But the Minister has some important particulars. He has the certain knowledge that the iron, the coal, and the men to work them are all here. While the nations of the world - the mother country, America, and Belgium in its own small way - are all struggling to push the iron industry in their midst, surely we shall do well to take some initial step in the same direction. The bonus would be after all simply a charge upon the whole body of the people - and distributed amongst them, would be very small indeed - in order to provide for the employment of thousands of men. Prom those men a revenue would be obtained even by means of the customs duties, which would amply recoup us this expenditure. The honorable member for Bland has said that there are certain protectionists- who will find a thousand and one reasons why this scheme should not be adopted. I do not know of the thousand and one reasons, nor of those protectionists; but the honorable member himself has furnished one excellent reason why the establishment of the iron industry should not be left to the States Governments, inasmuch as he has shown, or attempted to show, that it must be absolutely a failure.

Mr Watson - No.

Sir EDWARD BRADDON - If the honorable member be reported verbatim, the way in which he put the matter will lead the Governments and the Premiers of the different States to that conclusion.

Mr Watson - I did not say anything like that.

Sir EDWARD BRADDON - Six other reasons are provided by the Premiers of the six States, all of whom say that they will not have anything to do with the proposal.

Mr McDonald - They may be compelled to take it up.

Sir EDWARD BRADDON - It is all very well to say that, but I am very doubtful whether public opinion would trend in the direction of making them do it. I am also very doubtful whether any State Government is qualified to carry on a commercial enterprise of this kind. For my own part, I do not believe in State Governments as conductors of commercial operations.

Mr Fowler - What is the difference between a State Government and huge trading trusts 1 Neither personally superintend their own enterprises.

Sir EDWARD BRADDON - A State Government exists for the purpose of governing a State, and not to run . combinations or trusts, or mining, iron manufacturing, or other industries.

Mr Spence - Why then let them run the railway and postal departments ?

Sir EDWARD BRADDON - There is a reason for allowing the State to run its own post-office, which must present itself to all of us.

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