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Friday, 13 July 1906

Mr ROBINSON (Wannon) .- There must be a division on this question, in order to test the sincerity of Ministers, and of a section of the Committee, in their statement that nothing in the measure is likely to injure the primary producers. The description of the implements given in the clause is taken from the New Zealand Act, the only addition being " stripper harvesters and any other implement usually used in agriculture." On the second reading we discussed the New Zealand Act, and it was pointed out by the honorable member for Echuca, and others, that Mr. Seddon provided that, if the manufacturers of such implements were suffering from unfair competition, they should receive a bonus. The honorable member for Franklin desires to provide that the Justice shall inquire whether the goods used by farmers, or likely to be used bv them, are imported with the effect of benefiting the primary producers. The effect of the amendment proposed by the Minister is that any manufacturer who produces obsolete implements which are superseded by an imported article, would be able to block the importation on the ground that it injured himself and those whom he employed. It would be far more courageous and sincere if Minsters, instead of endeavourng to wriggle out of their difficulty by such an amendment, were to vote directly against the clause. However, I do not think that the amendment of the Ministry will have the effect of blinding the country people. The amendment proposed by the honorable member for Franklin affords an opportunity to show that the Ministry are not prepared to consider the interests of the primary producers when we put them" to a crucial test.

Mr Mahon - I thought the honorable member was against class legislation.

Mr ROBINSON - And so I am; and I say that two-thirds of the measure is class legislation. The honorable member for Coolgardie must admit this part of the Bill has been introduced for the benefit of one class - for the benefit, indeed, of one member of that class. This part of the measure is proposed in the interests of 'the manufacturers of agricultural implements; and we should never have heard of provision's of the kind, but for the skilful outcry raised throughout the country by one gentleman engaged in the industry. This amendment of the honorable member for Franklin is for the purpose of protecting

Mr Mahon - A class.

M!r. ROBINSON.- The amendment is for the purpose of protecting one section of the community against class legislation for Which the honorable member for Coolgardie has voted in every division. A good cleancut issue is now presented to us.

Mr Mahon - Why is the miner not included ?

Mr ROBINSON - If the honorable member chooses to propose that miners shall be included I shall Vote with him ; indeed, I should have the greatest pleasure in submitting such an amendment on his behalf.

Mr Isaacs - We protect the miner in our further amendment.

Mr ROBINSON - Really, I think we ought to subscribe, and present the AttorneyGeneral with a leather medal. Of all the honorable and learned gentleman's protestations of patriotism, and' regard for other people's interest, his last interjection reaches the culminating point. The AttorneyGeneral has protested his patriotism on every platform; and I have no doubt that when he goes down to his grave, his simple epitaph will be " A Patriot.'.' Just as a lady, now dead, is said to have had engraved on her heart one word, so shall we find on the heart of the Attorney-General, " Patriotism." The question before us is whether the primary producers are to have their interests considered in these determinations. No doubt their interests ought to be considered; 'but, in contrast to the amendment of the honorable member for Franklin, the amendment of the Ministry seeks to put those interests in a secondary place. I am very glad to say that a large portion of the manufacturing classes have protested against the Bill, but, when dealing with legislation of the kind, .we ought to pay some consideration to those who provide the means whereby the interest on our public debt is paid, and the country enabled to carry on business from day to day. The question is whether the primary producers are to be considered, or whether their interests are to be scattered to the winds. I hope honorable members will accept the amendment of the honorable member for Franklin, because, if they do not, they will act to the detriment of the interests of the primary producers.

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