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Friday, 1 August 1930

Senator DUNCAN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I cannot agree with the honorable senator. I cannot see how the establishment of this industry, to the extent contemplated, will in any way solve any problem whatever. I do not think it can be charged against me that I have not been a. friend of Australian industries since I have been a member of this Parliament. On the contrary, it has often been said of me that I am an over-optimistic supporter of them. But this scheme is too much even for me. It looks very much like one of those " getrichquick Wallingford " proposals, conceived chiefly for the benefit of certain gentlemen whose one purpose is to make money quickly. It certainly would not be Of any benefit to the people ultimately, and undoubtedly it would cost the taxpayers of the Commonwealth a good deal of money. Senator Crawford argued that the bounty would not be a charge against the revenue unless this new manufacturing industry proved successful. But we all know that once the industry is established we shall be committed to its continued support whether or not it is economically sound. I can easily imagine what will happen. If business falls away, requests, will be voiced in this chamber on behalf of the interests concerned fora further measure of protection. We shall be told of the large number of operatives employed in the industry and of the unemployment which must inevitably result if further protection is not granted, and, finally, that the works will close down unless Parliament grants further assistance, either by way of additional bounty or higher protection. I do not think there is any possibility of the enterprise being successful. If there is, the evidence has not been placed before the Senate. I listened with the keenest interest to the Assistant Minister (Senator Barnes), in moving the second reading of the bill, and also to the speeches of those honorable senators who spoke in support of it. I could not help feeling that many important matters were overlooked. Senator Greene and, I think, another honorable senator, doubted that any honorable senator would risk his own capital in this enterprise. Many important facts in connexion with the manufacture of sewing machineswere omitted by supporters of the proposal. Most of us are aware that many parts of a sewing machine are protected by worldwide patents. We have not been told whether the company about to be formed will be able to secure the Australian rights and, if so, how much it will have to pay for them.

Senator Rae - I think the majority of patents have expired.

Senator McLachlan - Those patents referred to the old type of machine.

Senator Barnes - I am informed that the total cost of the patent rights will be 3s. 7d. for each machine.

Senator DUNCAN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That information has not been placed before the Senate. The entire scheme is altogether too indefinite. We are being asked to risk too much. This is not the first time that an attempt has been made to place upon the Australian market an Australian sewing machine, although I admit that when the attempt was made previously it was not proposed that the machine should be wholly manufactured in Australia. Many years ago Mr.O. C. Beale, the wellknown manufacturer of Australian pianos, commenced the manufacture of what was known as the Beale sewing machine. He persevered for many years, and although he produced a perfectly efficient machine, he found the cost of distribution so high and the competition by importing interests so keen, that perforce he had to turn his attention to another branch of manufacture. It is true that his was not an all-Australian sewing machine. A considerable number of the parts were imported and assembled in Australia.

Senator McLachlan - And he was manufacturing in Sydney.

Senator DUNCAN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is so, and he would be enjoying certain advantages which would not be available to the Bendigo company. We have been told, further, that if this bill is passed a Sydney company will also be formed to manufacture sewing machines. This may be the intention, but as one of the representatives of New South Wales in this chamber, I have not been approached, and I have not heard anything of it. It looks as if some one in Sydney intends to " hop in " for his cut if this Parliament can -be induced to pass the bill. The gentlemen interested will, I assume, float a company, and when public money has been subscribed, they will get from under and allow some one else to nurse the baby.I have never, in all my experience, heard of such an extraordinary scheme as is outlined in this bill. It has nothing whatever to commend it. It is pretty smellful and I shall have nothing whatever to do with it.

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