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Wednesday, 13 August 1902

Sir JOHN QUICK (Bendigo) - I think it is to the interests of the primary producers to have their machinery manufactured on the spot, and that they should not be dependent on importations from foreign countries. I may tell the honorable member far Macquarie that the primary producers of Victoria have long been under that impression. The primary producers know that the circumstances and conditions of Australia may be altogether different from those of distant countries, and they think it is desirable that we should have a number of artizans and manufacturers here who can not only manufacture but repair machinery required by Australian conditions. What would be the use of primary producers importing machinery, which, if it got out of order, could not be repaired ? Naturally, the process of repair is associated with the process of primary manufacture. It has been found by the primary producers in Victoria that it is to their interests, both in the first instance and afterwards, to use locally made machinery. In Victoria, the local manufacturers are able to produce all the up-to-date agricultural and mining machinery which is required. I do not say that they have yet been called upon to produce all classes of machinery which may be required in all parts of Australia, but they will be able to do so before long, and if they do not, new manufactures will grow up in the States where there are peculiar conditions requiring a special class of machinery. As illustrating the capacity of Victorian manufacturers of mining machinery, I may tell the honorable member for Barrier that recently the directors of a large mine at Charters Towers called for tenders all over Australia for the manufacture and erection of a very large battery and plant. They requested a Bendigo firm to send in a tender, and it was in a position within 48 hours to tender for the required plant, showing that in Victoria there have grown up a number of manufacturers who are not only capable of supplying the needs of Victoria, but who are able to a very large extent to supply the needs of various parts of Australia.

Sir William McMillan - Does not that show that they do not want any protection?

Sir JOHN QUICK - They do, because there may be directors of some companies who are interested in the importation of machinery from outside countries. It is highly desirable that an inducement should be offered to these companies to use Australian productions, and a 15 per cent. duty is only a light impediment in the way of importing machinery and other requirements. To give another illustration of the capacity of the Victorian manufacturers of mining machinery, I may mention that quite recently I was informed by Mr. Henry Gore, a director of the Victorian Estates Company, who have a number of mines at Moolort, that originally they imported their machinery from England, at an enormous cost, but that after it had been erected and thousands of pounds paid in duty, it was found that it could have been made here at less cost. He told me that the next order for machinery was given to the Phoenix Foundry at Ballarat, and that it cost less than did the imported machinery.

Sir William McMillan - An excellent free-trade argument - no duty is required.

Sir JOHN QUICK - In the first in stance, the London directors refused to give an order to the local manufacturers, and went to the expense of paying the duty. The existence of a duty helps to draw the attention of directors and others who are interested in the erection of machinery to the fact that it can be made locally. I submit that the duties on this line have been reduced so very largely from the original Victorian standard, that the time has now come when we ought to say that we have arrived at the irreducible minimum.

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