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Thursday, 14 December 1905

Mr RONALD (Southern Melbourne) - I sincerely hope that the Government will stand by their guns and proceed with the consideration of the Bill. At a time like this its passing is a matter of the utmost importance.

Mr Brown - When did it become urgent ?

Mr RONALD - I am told on credible authority that thousands of mortgage deeds are being sent out with the harvesters of the International Company, that the company is taking liens over the goods and chattels of the farmers, and that in time to come we shall find here a foreign garrison, which is very undesirable. T am not speaking from mere hearsay. I have seen one of these forms, and the agents of the company are travelling from place to place, obtaining the liens that I have mentioned. Therefore "now is the accepted time" for the passing of this Bill. We have been told that there is no hurry; but I would say, with the utmost earnestness, that it is not a case of Hannibal being at the gate. Hannibal is inside, and if we pass the Bill only for the purpose of coping with the operations of the International Harvester Trust, we shall do good work. It has been said that tHat combination might be dealt with bv special legislation ; but such legislation is always bad. It is highly desirable that we should pass such a Bill as this, rather than appoint a Commission or special tribunal to investigate the harvester question. As to the suggestion that it should be referred to the Tariff Commission., I maintain that the question is entirely beyond their province. If the allegations we have heard with regard to the deliberate attempt to stifle native industry be true, the harvester combine deserves but little sympathy. There is a question of patriotism involved. Are we to see our natural industries wantonly stifled while we stand idly by? Yet that is being done by the importers' monopoly. If it be only a matter of the convenience or inconvenience of honorable members - the hurrying away to eat mince pies and roast turkey at Christmas - let us throw such considerations to the winds, and determine to complete the proper business of the session.

Motion agreed to ; clause postponed.

Mr Deakin - This will be the first Bill next session.

Progress reported.

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