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Thursday, 4 September 1902


Mr BROWN (Canobolas) - I was surprised, and, indeed, pained to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Perth, whom I have always regarded as one well grounded in economical matters, and able to size up political moods. The action which he proposes to take, instead of expediting the settlement of the Tariff, will, in my humble opinion, retard it. We have ceased to fight here about m'atters of principle, and are endeavouring to ascertain what concession should be made by this Chamber in order to effect an agreement with the other Chamber. But will the honorable member, by allowing himself to be dragooned by the Government, obtain what he desires? The members of the Senate hold strong views on these matters, and are in a very different position from us, inasmuch as a majority there is in favour of a reduction of duties. The honorable member, however, proposes to assist the Government in keeping these duties as they, are. I recognise that, having made a fight upon a previous occasion, , and having failed, there is hot much use in making a prolonged struggle now, but if divisions are called for I shall stand by the position I originally occupied.

Mr. CONROY(Werriwa).- I would remind the committee that if we insist upon these duties, and the Senate send back another series of requests, and the Bill has to be dropped, we shall have to take the discredit attaching to the event, because the measure originated in this Chamber.

Motion agreed to.

Item 14. Butterand cheese, per lb., 3d.

Request again made.- That the duty be 2d.

Motion (by Sir George Turner) agreed to-

That the amendment requested be not made.

Item 22. Grain and pulse, n.e.i., per cental, 1s.6d.

Request again made.- That wheat be added to the special exemptions.

Motion (by Sir George Turner) proposed -

That the amendment requested be not made.

Mr. BROWN(Canobolas). - I move-

That the motion be amended by the addition of the words, " but that the duty be1s."

What I have to say in support of this amendment can be said very speedily, though, if I thought that by debating the matter at length I could further the object I have in view, I should be prepared to stand here until I dropped. Honorable members generally will admit that under ordinary conditions this duty will be inoperative. According to Coghlan, during the year 1899 there was exported from the Commonwealth 14,500,000 bushels of grain valued at £1,800,000. New South Wales, which is now suffering most from the imposition of this duty, imported from parts beyond the Commonwealth during the year 1901, 11,198 bushels of grain, of which 11,145 bushels came from New Zealand. During the same year, however, New South Walesexported no less than 6,114,580 bushels of grain, valued at £787,000. During that year and for some years previously, New South Wales was exporting grain, but during the current year, on account of the abnormal conditions which obtain, and which have not been equalled within the memory of white men in Australia, it will probably be necessary to largely import wheat to. provide food for the people, to say nothing of that which may be necessary for stock-feeding purposes. The price of wheat generally rules at from 2s. 3d. to 2s. 9d. per bushel, but it has now reached the almost prohibitive price of4s. 6d.per bushel. It is only in times of great scarcity when special consideration should be shown for the requirements of the people, that this duty can become operative, and, in view of the facts I have stated, the committee might very reasonably make the concession now suggested.

Amendment negatived.

Motion agreed to.

Item 23. Grain and pulse, prepared or manufactured . . . n.e.i., per cental, 2s. 6d.

Request again made.- That the duty be re duced to1s. 6d.

Motion (by Mr. Kingston) agreed to -

That the amendment requested be not made.

Item 24. Hay and chaff, per cwt.1s.

Request again made.- That hay and chaff be added to the list of special exemptions.

Motion (by Mr. Kingston) proposed -

That the amendment requested be not made.

Mr. BROWN(Canobolas).- I move-

That the motion be amended by the additionof the words " but that the duty be 6d."

This would be a fair compromise between the Government proposal and the request of the Senate, and the reduced duty should be sufficient to meet all the requirements of the protectionists.

Amendment negatived.

Motion agreed to.

Item 46.Rice, n.e.i., per cental,6s.

Request again made.- That the duty be 5s.

Motion (by Mr. Kingston) proposed -

That the amendment requested be not made.

Mr. CONROY(Werriwa).- It was demonstrated in this Chamber on a former occasion that the result of maintaining the duty as proposed by the Government, would be to put £15,000 into the pockets of one particular firm. In spite of this, the Minister for Trade and Customs still insists upon refusing the request of the Senate, and honorable members seem inclined to support him.

Motion agreed to.

Item 58. Apparel and attire, and articles n.e.i. . . woollen or silk . . . ad valorem, 25 per cent.

Request again made.- That the duty be re duced to 20 per cent.

Item63. Hats and caps, namely, . . . felt hats . . . . sewn, ad valorem, 30 per cent.

Request again made.- That the duty be re duced to 25 per cent.

Motion (by Mr. Kingston) agreed to -

That the amendments requested be not made.

Item 71. Yarns, partly or wholly of wool, ad valorem, 10 per cent.

Request again made.- That the duty be5 per cent.

Motion (by Mr. Kingston) agreed to -

That the amendment requested be made.

Item 78, Manufactures of metal, viz., agricultural, horticultural, and viticultural machinery and implements, n.e.i., including shares and plough plates cut to shape, horse gears ; and road-making ploughs, scoops, horse road-rollers, and machines, ad valorem, 15 per cent.

Request again made.- That the duty be 10 per cent.

Motion (by Mr. Kingston) proposed -

That the amendment requested be not made, but that the duty be 12½ per cent.

Sir WILLIAMMcMILLAN (Wentworth). - This is an item in regard to which I hope the Government will see their way, not to make what I may call, with all respect, pettifogging proposals, but to generously meet the Senate. This may be described as a great national item, which affects many of the greatest industries of the country. In this new country, where we are trying to imagine that we have a population of 20,000,000 or 30,000,000, able to supply all their own requirements, we should not place an embargo upon machinery which enters, not merely into the life of our primary industries, but into all the ramifications of our manufacturing enterprises. If honorable members on both sides could induce the Government to agree to the reduction of the duty to 10 per cent. as suggested by the Senate, we should be going a long way towards smoothing over any difficulties between the two Houses. When we consider that machinery is of a bulky character, and that the import charges must be enormous, the protection afforded to the local manufacturers will be not 10 per cent., but as high as from 20 to 50 per cent. This is a question upon which we shall, perhaps, have to divide the committee. On a former occasion there was a majority of only one against our proposal to reduce the duty to 12½ per cent., and I am inclined to think that many honorable members whose pairs were recorded against the proposal would have voted with us if they had been here. However, that is a mere matter of opinion. If honorable members are anxious to save the country from a commercial crisis, and to dispel the present unrest and instability which is eating the heart out of the community, an opportunity is presented for a liberal exercise of thatspirit of compromise and concession which must enter, more or less, into our relations with the other Chamber. I do believe it would create a good impression if the Government were willing to give way upon this item.

Mr. BATCHELOR(South Australia).The honorable member for Wentworth has urged those who sit on both sides of the Chamber to press the Government to accede to the request of the Senate. But I desire to point out that in my opinion the Government, by reducing the duty from 15 to 12½ per cent., will throw over the whole manufacturing industry of Australia. Instead of this being a protective Tariff, so far as the great industries of the country are concerned, it is anything but that. It is a thing of shreds and patches, without cohesion or consistency. Relatively unimportant industries are granted a large measure of protection, whilst the great enterprises which are really worth conserving, are treated without consideration. So far as I am concerned, I entirely repudiate the idea that this Tariff is a protective one.


Mr Mauger - It is a mongrel Tariff.







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