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Thursday, 23 August 1906

Mr LONSDALE (New England) . - I join with the honorable member for Lang in urging the Government to let the Committee know what business they intend to proceed with this session. It is apparent that if the general election is to take place on 2 1 st November next, the session must soon close ; nevertheless, important measures are being put aside for comparatively unimportant ones. If the Government are anxious to protect- the mangled industries, of which we have heard so much, and to find employment before Christmas for the people who have been thrown out of employment owing, it is said, to the closing of certain works, they should lose no time in dealing with the Tariff. The people of Victoria consider that the question should have been dealt with last year, and yet the Government, who pose as the saviours of the working classes, are allowing important matters relating to the Tariff to remain untouched. It is time that we had from them some practical proof of the sympathy they profess for the great bulk of the people. I can well understand that the genial Treasurer, who has not suffered by the strangling of any industry, completely forgets the position of those who have suffered. If the Government are really in earnest in their professed desire to help the unfortunate men who are out of employment, they ought to give their Tariff reform proposals precedence over all other measures.

Mr Watson - The honorable member might give us a few words in favour of the single tax.

Mr LONSDALE - I should be out of order if I did so; but I have dealt with it freely on the public platform. If I had the position and influence of the honorable member for Bland, I should not give myself up to pleasure whilst the working classes were suffering. I should endeavour, at all events, to put into practice the principles which I believed would afford them some assistance. The honorable member has no more faith in my principles than I have in those which he professes. The Government ought to at once bring forward their very important proposals with regard to the Tariff. Personally, I do not think that the alteration of the Tariff in the manner desired by Ministers will relieve distress. On the contrary, I am certain that it will benefit merely the wealthy. But, if honorable gentlemen were sincere, they would bring forward measures for Tariff reform, instead of taking up the time of Parliament with the discussion of Copyright and Preferential Ballot Bills. Honorable members cannot remain here much, longer. At the end of next week I shall leave the scene, and perhaps may not return.

Mr Watson - I am sorry that the honorable member is not coming back.

Mr LONSDALE - I shall not care much whatever happens. All of us who represent large constituencies must leave very shortly, in order to prepare for the election on the 21st November, and Ministers should therefore do what they say is necessary to save the strangled industries of which we have heard so much. If they bring forward their Tariff proposals, we on this side shall be able to show that the manufacturers connected with the protected industries are making profits amounting to thousands of pounds a year, and that the suggested alterations of the Tariff would merely help the very wealthy to rob the poor still more.

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