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Friday, 31 August 1906

Senator WALKER (New South Wales) . - I find from a newspaper extract that an old personal friend of mine, Senator Styles, has made some remarks with regard to certain imports, which, I presume, would be affected by the passing of this Bill, and they are of such an erroneous nature that I believe I am justified in drawing the attention of the Senate to them. Speaking from wrong information, no doubt he believed what he said. In a speech he referred to a sum of no less than ;£i 1,000,000 in sovereigns having been sent to America to pay for goods which were imported therefrom, and which might very easily have been produced in our own country. I happen to know something about the figures to which he referred, and I take the liberty of mentioning' the facts here, so that he may not repeat the mistake. The goods may possibly be considered to have been exported by American trusts and others. I happen to possess information about some of the transactions.

The same remark as my honorable friend has made was made in New South Wales under a misapprehension by the Honorable E. W. O'sullivan, and I corrected it at a public meeting.

Senator Styles - How long is it since he made the remark ?

Senator WALKER - It was made in respect of the same years as the honorable senator referred to. Great Britain, as we all know, is a debtor country to the United States for food products, and Aus.tralia is a debtor country to Great Britain for importations. From London the banks in Australia got instructions to send large remittances in gold to San Francisco not to pay for goods bought from America, but for goods which Great Britain had bought there. In place of sending the gold to Great Britain and thence to New York, it was sent under those instructions direct to America. The honorable senator therefore was under a misapprehension in supposing that the payment was in respect of goods brought into Australia from America. Let me read exactly what he said. Speaking at Cobram on Tuesday, of last week I presume, he said -

During the same five years Australia sent only £5,500,000 worth of merchandise to the United States, but sent £11,000,000 in sovereigns to be distributed amongst the manufacturers, middlemen and operatives of the great Republic of America, instead of distributing that enormous sum amongst the manufacturers, middlemen and operatives of the great Commonwealth of the south. Had that £11,000,000 in sovereigns been expended in Australia not a single person need have been out of work during the period named. About 80 per cent, of the people of Australia are native bom, and he asked them to think over these plain statements. If after having given the matter full consideration any Australian not being interested ' in the shinning trade, or getting a living or making a fortune out of imports, would send {rood Australian money across the sea for articles which could be produced in his own country by his own people, he was at all events unpatriotic, if not a fiscal crank.

I think it will be seen - and I hope the public will recognise and take note of the fact - that sometimes our honorable friends on the other side make grave mistakes as to the reason why gold is sent to America. It is often sent there to pay for goods which are got from our own countrymen in Great Britain, to whom we wish to offer a preference. The statement I have quoted was, if I may say so, unworthy of my honorable friend.

Senator Styles - Does the honorable senator dispute the facts given?

Senator WALKER - I dispute the fact that we paid over£11,000,000 in gold for imports from America.

Senator Styles - But did we send the sovereigns there?

Senator WALKER - They were sent there at the request of Great Britain to pay for goods which she had got from America, and if the honorable senator cannot see the reason after the explanation I 'have given, I am not in a position to provide him with understanding.

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