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Thursday, 30 August 1906

Senator DRAKE (Queensland) .- I have no objection to the amendment if the Government are satisfied with its language, but I have not yet seen the expression " up-to-date " used in an Act of Parliament.

Senator Pearce - It was used by Senator Symon in an amendment which he proposed, so that I am following the lead of a high authority.

Senator Playford - And it has been used in a previous clause.

Senator DRAKE - I am not a purist in language, but I thought that the expression " up-to-date " was slang. I have not heard of it being used in an Act of Parliament. I am rather inclined to think that it would raise a smile when the Justice was called upon to interpret the term.

Senator Playford - This is only a consequential amendment.

Senator DRAKE - I observe that Senator Pearce gave notice of an amendment in which he used much better language. He then proposed to add to this sub-clause the following words : - being reasonably efficient and effective, and no competition shall be deemed unfair if the Australian industry is ineffective and inefficient in its management, processes, and machinery.

Senator Playford - This amendment is only consequential upon an amendment which was made the other day in another clause.

Senator DRAKE - What is it consequential upon?

Senator Playford - It is consequential upon the insertion of exactly the same words in a previous clause.

Senator DRAKE - I am sorry that Senator Pearce is not using the words which he used in his contingent notice.

Senator Pearce - It was pointed out to me that the words I gave notice of would destroy the effect of the whole clause.

Senator DRAKE - Why?

Senator Pearce - Because it would make the competition hinge upon that one thing alone.

Senator DRAKE - I do not think so. At any rate, it would make quite clear what before was ambiguous in the sub-clause. On a previous occasion I pointed out that it was rather ambiguous, because it does not clearly state whether the fact that the management and the processes and the machinery were up-to-date should be a special reason, or whether it should be a reason for withholding the aid proposed to be given. I have no objection to the amendment, because I think that it should be a consideration in connexion with extending the provisions of the measure to the preservation of any industry. Perhaps I may have been misunderstood in regard to something which was said by Senator Millen when we were discussing another clause. I then referred to this provision incidentally, and it gave rise to a debate on the subject. I entirely agree with the view which was laid down by Senator Millen then with regard to the provision, so far as it applies to a system of protection by means of a Tariff. I think that the Tariff should be raised to just such a height as would compensate for the extra cost of wages, the proper conditions of living, and so on, in the country where the industry was protected. But I do not think that it should be raised to such a height as to encourage persons to manufacture under inefficient management, or by processes, plant, and machinery which were not up-to-date. That, however, will be the effect of this sub-clause. Whilst I consider that this a right principle on which to. go in dealing with protection by means of a Tariff, I think it is not a. proper principle to adopt where the attempt is made to give protection by means of prohibition. My idea of a protectionist Tariff is that it should protect our own industries, but not altogether shut out the importation of goods from outside, so that there may be a steady and fair competition between the imported article and the article locally produced. It is because this provision does not fit in with prohibition that I am confirmed in my opinion that protection by prohibition is not right. If we are going to have prohibition at all I do not see why we should not apply it for the benefit of all industries, including those that are not up-to-date. I repeat that I do not believe in protection by prohibition, but by means of a Tariff.

If we protect by meansof a Tariff it operates to benefit industries in all stages. Every industry , gets the full benefit of the protection afforded by a Tariff, whether it be large or small. Industries established in out-of-the-way places, and in connexion with which it has been said that distance gives them an additional protection, get equal protection from a Tariff with big industries established in large centres of population. But under this provision, as I pointed out before, the unfairness will be that aid will not be given to an industry until it becomes a big affair. This provision does not seek to aid struggling industries, which may be affected by the imported article, and be crushed out of existence. I ask honorable senators to take notice of the fact that under this Bill industries will only receive protection when they are completely organized, and are reaching out for a local monopoly. Some parts of the Bill are supposed to be against monoplies, yet under this particular provision aid will not be afforded to an Australian industry until it has been so far established that it can aim at securing a local monopoly. Then it can avail itself of the protection afforded by this measure to shut out outside competition, and to enable it to establish itself as a local monopoly. There is nothing in this Bill to help small industries. From first to last, and in every line, it is saturated with capitalism.

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