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Tuesday, 19 July 1904

Mr KNOX (Kooyong) - The Otis Company has been referred to as one of the engineering companies which are suffering very seriously in consequence of the Tariff. I do not propose to discuss what has caused such a large concern as that to suffer. But speaking with considerable knowledge, I can say that the Otis Company manufactures chiefly mining machinery. It is wellknown that the industry of mining throughout Australia is in a very depressed condition.

Mr Mauger - They manufacture all kinds of machinery.

Mr KNOX - It 'would be absolutely inaccurate for any honorable member to come to the House and say that that, or any similar engineering company was suffering solely from any change in the Tariff.

Mr Mauger - The manager says they are.

Mr KNOX - There is another great cause for the depression in the engineering companies which undertake that class of work. As showing that the natural conditions of the Commonwealth give a direct contradiction to the position taken up by the honorable member, I ask him if he will furnish the House with information as to the progress of engineering companies which make a specialty of manufacturing agricultural implements. I am in a position to know that the largest' of these companies is in a very flourishing condition indeed.

Mr Tudor - What company is that?

Mr KNOX - I refer to Robinson and Co., who, I know, are progressing very satisfactorily. Apart from any considerations of the Tariff, there are natural causes for the depression and progression that we have had in the agricultural areas. We have to look to the primary causes rather than to the artificial causes to which the honorable member for Melbourne Ports referred. ,

Mr.. RONALD(Southern Melbourne).So far as one can judge from a very careful observation among the manufacturing classes in my electorate, the Tariff has worked disastrous results in connexion with labour during the two years of its existence. The Johnstone Tyne Foundry, Gibbons' Plough Factory, and several other firms have had to considerably reduce the number of their hands by reason of the limited trade. It is quite true that the increased output through Inter-State free-trade has been some compensation, and we do not desire to deny that fact for a moment. At the same time, manufacturing firms have to struggle for existence, and the freer ingress of implements is telling very hard against protected industries. I believe most sincerely, that observation will fully substantiate the proposition that the want of employment in Melbourne - largely in the iron industries - is due to the existing Tariff. I do not wish to break through the fiscal truce, or fiscal peace, but if anything can be done in the meantime by the Government to compensate for the loss of employment which has been consequent on the ne-arrangement of the Tariff - for it cannot be called a reform - I should be exceedingly glad.

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