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Thursday, 4 August 1921

Senator DUNCAN (New South Wales) . - I would not have spoken again but" for the attack made upon me by the honorable senator who leads the Opposition when he is here, and who said that he represented the masses of people who are not banded together in any organization, and who cannot frame resolutions and distribute circulars in connexion with the duties provided in the schedule. I desire to remind the honorable senator that he does represent organizations, or people who are able to form organizations, some of whom quite recently carried a resolution censuring him for the hostile attitude he adopted towards Australian manufactures. That is sufficient to show that, while Senator Gardiner may claim to represent certain people, the representation is not of the character desired.

Senator Gardiner - Will the honorable senator supply the. facts ?

Senator DUNCAN - I am not in the habit of making statements that I cannot prove. Surely the honorable senator is aware that a section of ' the electors in the district of Dalley carried a resolution censuring him for the Free Trade speech he delivered in the Senate -on the Tariff. I refer to the resolution carried by the Dalley Federal Council, representing the whole of the Labour Leagues in that electorate. That shows that he is grossly misrepresenting the opinions of many people whom he is supposed to represent.

Senator Gardiner - Does the honorable senator think that some of my constituents would carry a resolution without notifying me?

Senator DUNCAN - They are capable of doing all sorts of things.

Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.

Senator DUNCAN - Senator Gardiner seems to have taken a certain amount of umbrage because I am supporting an increased duty on prunes in order to protect the interests of a great many soldier settlers who have been encouraged by the Repatriation Department to take up holdings for the purpose of producing prunes. When I remember the general attitude of the party which Senator Gardiner represents here towards the returned soldier, I am not at all surprised that he should resent any honorable senator saying a few words on behalf of an industry in which so many returned soldiers are engaged. I feel sure, however, that the opinion of honorable senators generally will be that it is wise and proper, in view of all the circumstances, to give some increased protection to this industry. After hearing the explanation of the Minister on this item, I cannot in any way reproach myself for having decided to give my vote for the increased duty. I hope that the Committee will agree to the increase, particularly in order that soldier settlers who have been encouraged to go into the industry may be given that protection against foreign competition which is necessary.

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