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Tuesday, 28 August 1906

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - At about 25 per cent. It is five shillings less than the ad valorem duty recommended by the Tariff Commission.

Mr Kelly - That statement is based upon the Minister's arbitrary valuation of harvesters ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - It is based upon a proper valuation.

Mr Lonsdale - The Minister knows that it is not.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Sometimes honorable members say that I know nothing.

Mr Lonsdale - The honorable gentleman does not know very much.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I know quite enough for the honorable member. The basis upon which this has been arrived at is the valuation of£65 placed on these machines. As I explained just now, our proposal will, if adopted, save the Department a great deal of trouble - it will avoid the necessity of communicating with the States and with Canada. If we had had in the first instance a specific duty much of the difficulty that has arisen would have been obviated.

Mr Lonsdale - It is a piece of political thieving.

Mr McCay - Is the Minister making any condition as to price?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - It is unnecessary to embody in the motion the conditions as to price, but I shall lay upon the table a short memorandum showing what the Government propose to embody in the Bill to prevent a combination charging more than a certain price for these machines without losing the advantage of a portion, if not the whole, of the duty. The Bill, which I shall not prepare until the motion has been dealt with, will provide that the cash price of 5-feet stripperharvesters must be reduced by the end of 1906 to £70. I wish to emphasize the point that the Tariff Commission recommended that the price should not exceed £81. That, to my mind, would be an outrageous charge.

Mr Lonsdale - Then the honorable gentleman does not think that£65 is a fair price for the imported machines?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I have heard that statement so often that it is unnecessary for the honorable member to repeat it.

Mr Lonsdale - But the two things do not fit.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I have no wish to listen again to a tirade of abuse such as that to which. I have been subjected. The Bill will also provide that the price of the 5 ft. 6 in. harvester shall be reduced by the end of 1906 to£75.

Mr Robinson - They can be bought for £71

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The honorable and learned member goes about the country talking in a blustering way of things about which he knows absolutely nothing. I shall show how little he knows of this subject. Before we fixed the Customs valuation of £65 upon the 5 ft. 6 in. harvesters, the selling price in Melbourne was . £84.

Mr Lonsdale - Who sold at that price ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - All the firms concerned.

Mr Lonsdale - No.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Then again, the price of the 5 ft. harvester was £81 I propose that the price of these machines shall be reduced by the end of 1906 to£75 and£70 respectively, with a. further reductionby the end of 1907 to £70 for the larger size, and to for the smaller size. Failing such reductions, power will be taken to reduce the import duties, by proclamation, or resolution of the House, to an amount to be determined by such proclamation or resolution, not to be less than one-half of the new duties imposed. I said that the honorable and learned member for Wannon did not know anything about present prices. I have before me the pricelist of one of the local makers of these machines.

Mr Page - What about wages conditions ?

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - Will the MasseyHarris Company pay fair wages?

Mr Page - If we are going to have protection for the manufacturer, we must have protection for the worker.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I hope that the honorable member for Maranoa will not fly at me so impetuously.

Mr Page - I am flying not at the Minister, but at the Government Whip.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I think- and I believe it is the desire of the Committee - that some conditions will have to be imposed in the Bill, or a Wages Board will have to be appointed, to prevent the payment of unduly low wages to those engaged in the industry.

Mr Tudor - And to prevent the employment of too many boys.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I hope that the honorable member will allow me to deal with one matter at a time. I cannot go into every detail in submitting this bald motion which is intended really for the information of the Committee, and is not part and parcel of the Bill to be hereafter submitted. I recently met a member of the firm of Hugh Lennon and Co., who directed my attention to a statement which appeared in the Argus of 22nd and 24th instant, to the effect that, in consequence of the motion submitted by me, in .accordance with the recommendations of the Tariff Commission, the price of harvesters had been increased. The gentleman in question gave me his business card, showing that the prices charged for these machines are ^75 for the smaller size and £&o for the larger size, and that these prices have prevailed ever since the ring that was in existence was partly, if not wholly, dissolved.

Mr Johnson - The ring in which Mr. McKay joined.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - And in which the Massey-Harris Company and the International Harvester Company also took part.

Mr Lonsdale - - They were all in it.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The honorable member's friends were members of the ring.

Mr Crouch - The men who will provide funds for the free-trade party.

Mr Lonsdale - They were all in it.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I never said that they were not ; I believe that they were a.ll im it. This constant harping on the name of McKay Brothers-

Mr Lonsdale - Have we not seen them in the gallery talking to the honorable gentleman? It is disgraceful.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - And have not honorable members seen the Massey-Harris and the International Harvester people talking, to the honorable member ? I know that I have.

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - How much have they donated to the funds of the other side?

Mr Lonsdale - I wish they would make a donation to me.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - No doubt the honorable member would take it.

Mr Robinson - Following the Minister's example.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Honorable members cannot accuse me of ever, having done anything of the kind. I hope that the Chairman of the Tariff Commission will not join issue with me on thi9 question. No doubt the Commission have done the best they could; but I feel that, given the protection: suggested, the- regulation of future prices as they propose, would not be sufficient from the stand-point of the purchaser amd the public.

Mr Johnson - The honorable gentleman does1 not believe, as he .did a little while ago, that the crying need of the country is fiscal peace.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The honorable member is always talking rubbish ; no one takes the slightest notice of what he says. It is for the" reason I have indicated that the Government propose at the present time not only to protect the manufacturer, but the purchasers and users of these machines.

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - And the workmen engaged in the industry.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Certainly. I am very glad that the honorable member for Maranoa referred by interjection to that phase of the question. If there is one thing I desire more than another it is that the weaker section of the community shall be fairly paid. I desire that the workers shall be protected just as strongly as I wish to secure protection for the manufacturer. If honorable members require further information as to the number of machines imported, I shall be prepared to supply it at the proper time. I may mention that the proposal to pLace on the free-list certain- articles which are at present dutiable will not come into force until the Bill has been passed. At the present moment hand-worked rakes- and ploughs combined, maize harvesters, maize binders, maize planters, moulding boards in the rough and not cut into shape, and potato raisers or diggers are on the free-list, and it is proposed to add hay tedders and potato sorters to the list, for the reason that it seems that they are not manufactured here, and that probably* if they were not made free, as recommended by the Commission, the price would be unduly increased. I shall be glad at the proper time to give honorable members all the information that is required in regard to this matter, but I do not think that it is necessary at present to do so.

Progress reported.

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