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Tuesday, 10 July 1906

Mr HENRY WILLIS (Robertson) . - I feel with the honorable member for Corinella-

Mr Wilks - Give the Minister a chance to reply.

Sir William Lyne - Let the honorable member go on.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - Having" read the report in the press of the Minister's speech, wherein he told a deputation of manufacturers and producers that he would! have inquiries made into their representations, and fully consider them, I expected' him to come down to-day prepared to make a statement. I had that expectation especially in view of the fact that, under this part of the Bill, we have a little Tariff, and it would not be unusual for a Minister, under the circumstances, to give some reasons for bringing forward proposals of" the kind. I read the report of the Minister's speech, in which he pointed to thefact that -£7,000,000 worth of ironwareand machinery are imported into the Commonwealth, as a reason for the introduction of Part III. of the Bill.

Mr Wilks - Surely the Minister did' not argue that all this importation is dumping ?

Mr HENRY WILLIS - The Minister referred to it as dumping.

Mi-. Wilks.- The whole lot?

Mr HENRY WILLIS - I suppose it was' in reply to the request made bv thehonorable' member for Corinella, that the Minister, at a later period, again referred' to the importation of the £7.000,000- Worth of goods - referred to it in brief, saving that he had not time to go into triematter fully. The Minister expressed a: wish that he had had time to work out the money in Australian coin, so as to show the actual loss caused by this dumping, as compared with the prices at which the goods are sold in America and Great Britain. The Minister ought, certainly, to give some reasons for the introduction of Part III., which is really a Tariff covering metal ware and machinery imports to the value of £7,000.000. How are we to consider this clause unless the Minister does make a statement? Are we to be content with the mere- vote ' of the brutal majority the honorable gentleman may have at his back ? Are manufacturers and capitalists - and also producers, who are now included with manufacturers - to receive no consideration in this Bill ? Arc the industries referred! to by the deputation, to be all ignored? Are men who have entered into manufacturing enterprises to be discouraged ? Are they to lose the whole of their capital under Part III. of this measure? Is all this to be done without the Minister condescending to make a statement to the Committee? The Minister has told us that he proposes to appoint a Judge to take the place of a Board. What does a Judge know of commercial affairs? The most astute Judge or lawyer, if he is keen in his profession, has had very little time to follow commercial pursuits. What does such a man know of the manufacturing industries of Australia? He certainly knows very little of the conditions under which operatives work and live. In the Arbitration Court of New South Wales it was found possible to obtain the services of a Judge, in the person of Mr. Justice Cohen, who, as a merchant, had had a commercial career before he became a lawyer. In that regard, I suppose New South Wales was fortunate in obtaining the services of such a man; and, when he resigned the position was given to Mr. Justice Heydon, who also had had the advantage of a previous commercial career. But the Justices of the High Court of Australia, who are doing their work so satisfactorily, have not had commercial careers, and are not competent to deliberate on such cases as would be brought before them under Part III. of the measure. The Minister ought to give some reason 'for appointing a Justice of the High Court in preference to a commercial man. If such questions are to be left to one person, let him be a highly competent commercial man, who knows something of it-he industries of Australia - who knows something about shipping, and who has travelled widely, and has some knowledge of the condition of manufactures in other parts of the world. Nor does the Minister appear at all inclined to give the Committee any information by which we mav deal satisfactorily with this proposal. These dumping clauseswould operate in the same manner as a prohibitive Tariff.. In his introductory speech, the Minister entered into details in support of them. He said that some friends, of his had put £600,000 or £700,000 - to use his own figures - into the industry of bringing shale out of mines in New South Wales, putting it into a kiln where it would ' be baked, and extracting from it crude kerosene oil. .This oil is to be brought into competition with oil taken from the oil wells of America. These friends of the Minister, he told us, have constructed a railway, at a cost of £80,000, and we are asked to believe that they are to sell their product in competition with oil which is obtained in America as easily as you can take water out of the sea. If these clauses are to be put into operation against American kerosene, the effect will be to increase the cost of oil to settlers in the back country, to farmers, and to all who use oil engines. I am inclined to think that the Committee will not be satisfied with the information with which wo have already been supplied. In the Minister's absence last week we dealt with this phase of the question pretty fully. W

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