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Wednesday, 29 August 1906

Senator STANIFORTH SMITH (Western Australia) . - I admit at once that Senator Symon's amendment has exercised my mind a good deal. I agree to a certain extent with what he has said in proposing it. I agree with him in his support of some preference to Great Britain in our Tariff. Three years ago, when I was addressing my constituents in Perth. I advocated giving a preference to Great Britain, and am still in favour of that policy. Senator Symon has pointed out that the clause means prohibition under certain conditions, and there is a fear that it mav be misunderstood in Great Britain. We are well aware that our Immigration Restriction Acts - which, as amended, are really good Acts, and should remain exactly as they stand - were misunderstood through the British people being misinformed as to their intention. A great deal of injury was consequently done to the Commonwealth in respect of attracting desirable immigration. Senator Symon also pointed out that we are imposing penalties which mav be applied to British manufacturers, although no instance has been given of their having done wrong to our traders.

Senator Best - What does the honorable senator mean by penalties?

Senator STANIFORTHSMITH.Surety prohibition is a penalty. But another question has arisen in my mind. Why is this proposed exemption confined to the British Isles, and not proposed to be applied to other portions of the British Empire in which the Anglo-Saxon race exists - such, for instance, as Canada? The answer will at once Le made that if the exemption were extended to Canada it would mean that the line of manufactures that Senator Symon says this Bill was specially introduced to prevent the importation of under certain circumstances, would be exempted from the operation of the measure. In another place a Bill has been introduced to impose specific duties on stripper harvesters. It is not proposed to make any differentiation between Great Britain and any other part of the world with regard to their importation. If. when that measure comes before the Senate, Senator Symon proposes that a preference shall be granted to Great Britain, I shall be prepared to support him. But the Bill now before us was, we are informed, introduced specially to deal with stripper harvesters. I am inclined to agree with that view to a large extent. If, therefore, we read into this Bill an application to stripper harvesters specifically, instead of to manufactures generally, we shall find that it is now proposed to give a preference to Great Britain in the importation of stripper harvesters, although a Judge of the High Court may find that they are being introduced at a specially low price with the object of destroying an Australian industry.

Senator Millen - Great Britain does not manufacture stripper harvesters.

Senator STANIFORTH SMITH - But she may do so The Canadian and American manufacturers may commence to manufacture in Great Britain if she is exempted from the dumping clauses. It appears to me that this is the wrong Bill in which to propose to grant a preference to Great Britain. We propose in this measure to punish those who are endeavouring to injure us. But Senator Symon's amendment proposes that we shall not punish dumpers who desire to injure us if their goods come from Great Britain. That is very altruistic, and ethically admirable as far as it goes ; but if we apply it to this Bill we practically say that we will not inflict any punishment on our kinsfolk who do us wrong,- whereas if we apply it to the Tariff Bill to which I have referred, and which is now before another place, we shall say that we do desire to give a. preference to British manufacturers over others who honestly compete with us. I should prefer to give a preference to Great Britain under the Tariff proposals, and not in a Bill which is introduced with the special object of punishing those who attempt to injure Australian industries. I shall vote against the amendment.

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