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Tuesday, 10 July 1906

Mr ISAACS (INDI, VICTORIA) - Canada and New Zealand, with great respect to my honorable friend, have no't. Have mv honorable friends read this Bill? If' they have read it, they will see that in these antidumping provisions there is not a word that is directed against any British trade whatever, except the trade that comes here with the intention to destroy Australian industries.

Mr Johnson - But that can be said of all competitive trade.

Mr ISAACS - I am endeavouring to answer a speech which was put fairly. I did not interrupt the honorable member for North Sydney for a moment, and I want my honorable friends to listen if they will to what I am saying, and to give a fair answer. The central clause is clause 15. It provides only for the case of an importer bringing in goods with the intention of unfairly competing against Australian goods, or with the intention of destroying Australian industries.

Mr Johnson - According to the honorable and learned member, all competition is unfair. So what is the use of giving an illustration of that kind?

Mr ISAACS - Some remarks are unfair, and the interjection is one of them. My honorable friend must not try to get out of a difficult corner in that way ; he cannot do it. So far as this portion of the Bill is concerned, it is only aimed at such competition as is unfair, and such importation as is avowedly indulged in for the purpose of destroying Australian industries and lowering the remuneration of Australian labour. What room is there for generosity in that?

Mr Conroy - Will the honorable and learned gentleman put that in the clause?

Mr ISAACS - It is in the clause.

Mr Conroy - Will the honorable and learned gentleman put in the word " avowedly " ?

Mr ISAACS - Oh ! I see what my honorable friend wants; as long as a man does not get up and say, in so many words, " I am coming here with the intention, " he can have the intent. The effect will be the same. He can sweat our employes, and drive our industries off the face of the land, and my honorable friend will say that is nothing.

Mr Kelly - We are simply asking the Attorney-General to put in the Bill the same word as he used.

Mr ISAACS - My honorable friends feel the pinch of their position, and they are saying to us, " As long as this destruction comes from the motherland we shall allow it to go cn." Our duty to Australia is to be Australians first; our duty here is to protect the industries of our land and the interests of our workers, and, whether the intent comes from New Zealand, Canada, or the mother country, I, for one, will not agree to permit the destruction to go on to the injury of my country.

Mr Johnson - Always provided that there is any such intent.

Mr ISAACS - Yes, and the Bill aims at no cases other than those in which that intent exists.

Mr Fuller - Will the Attorney-General give an instance of where that is being done to-dav from Great Britain?

Mr ISAACS - If it is not being done from Great Britain, there is no necessity for the amendment. And, if it is being done from Great Britain, then I object to the amendment.

Mr Fuller - Will the AttorneyGeneral give us an instance of any country from which it is being done to-dav?

Mr ISAACS - The Minister of Trade and Customs has given many instances.

Honorable Members.- No, no.

Mr ISAACS - There seems to be a chorus. I cannot distinguish exactly the words, but they are in harmony apparently. I would like to put a case to my honorable friends. Suppose that an instance is brought before the Justice of the High Court, and that the facts show that from Great Britain goods are being imported with the intent that they may be sold or offered for sale within the Commonwealth in unfair competition with Australian goods', or with the intent to injure Australian industry by unfair competition. Will mv honorable friends say that, in loyalty to Australia, they will permit that to be done if the injury comes from Great Britain?

Mr Cameron - Yes.

M*. ISAACS. - Then my honorable friend is not an Australian.

Mr Cameron - Yes, he is.

Mr ISAACS - My honorable friend cannot have what I think he ought to have - loyalty to this country.

Mr Cameron - The honorable and learned gentleman has loyalty on his tongue, but does not practise it.

Mr ISAACS - That is, I think a short answer to the speech of the honorable member for North Sydney. This is not an attempt to keep out any goods from any part of the world, provided that the competition' is fair.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Look at what unfair competition is stated to be in paragraph a of proposed new clause 14. It applies to all our imports.

Mr ISAACS - That is hardly an answer to my question, unless the honorable member says he is going to vote for the whole of the paragraph.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Will the honorable and learned gentleman read it ?

Mr ISAACS - I am very glad that my honorable friend has referred to the paragraph, because it shows exactly what I mean. It says that competition is unfair if- under ordinary circumstances of trade - this is no boom matter, but ordinary circumstances of trade with the best machinery and methods that we can procure - it would probably lead to the Australian goodsbeing no longer produced or being withdrawn from the market, or being sold at a loss unless produced at a lower remuneration for labour.

Which of my honorable friends will stand up and acknowledge himself as a supporter of sweating?

Mr Johnson - We are not protectionists, and that is why we are not sweaters.

Mr ISAACS - That is all it comes to.

Mr Johnson - The lowest wages prevail in the most highly protective countries, showing that protection is a rank and ghastly failure.

Mr ISAACS - I do not agree with my honorable friend in his fact, but that is not the question here. Whatever our wages are under ordinary conditions, with the best machinery and appliances we can procure, and the best methods we can adopt, if anyone comes here with the intent to break down an industry which it is desirable, inthe interests of producers, workers, and consumers should be preserved, and if he attempts to break it down by means of a system of competition which nothing canavert, except the cutting down of Australian rates of labour, I say for myself and the Government, " We do not care whether it comes from the mother country or anywhere else, we will not permit, it."

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