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Thursday, 18 February 1932

Mr NAIRN (Perth) .- There are two matters in the Governor-General's Speech to which I desire to refer. The first is' the tariff, which has been touched upon by the honorable member who has just resumed his seat. I confess that I am somewhat disappointed at the references to the tariff in the speech. The tariff of this country was raised progressively until 19£S, and at that time it was believed, at any rate by the party to which I belong, that the high-water mark had been reached. The Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Bruce), who was then Prime Minister, indicated clearly, I think, in 1929, that he believed that a reconsideration of the tariff should take place with a view to lowering rather than raising it. Then the Labour party came into office, and imposed duties which made the Australian tariff unique. The high tariff policy of that party was strenuously opposed in this House during the last Parliament by the party with which I am associated, and no member of the House was more vigorous in his condemnation of it than was the present Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Gullett). I confess that I find difficulty in reconciling the statements made in the last Parliament, in opposition to the present tariff, with the proposals of the present Government, te indicated in the Governor-General's Speech, in which one finds these words -

My Ministers recognize the special importance of the tariff at the present time, and its intimate relation to the welfare of both primary and secondary industries.

I have looked in. vain in the Speech for anything suggesting an intention to give relief to the primary industries. If the Ministry's tariff proposals do not go further than is indicated in the Speech, I shall be unable to support the Government in respect to the tariff. I believe that what one advocates in opposition, one should be prepared to put into practice on a assuming ministerial responsibility.

The speech further states -

It is considered that, with industry in its present depressed condition, changes in duties should be made with caution and only after full inquiry and consideration.

I take that as an indication that the Government intends not to interfere with the excessive imposts which were imposed by the Labour party during the last Parliament. Members of my party gave many instances of excessive tariffs, and motions were submitted for reductions of specific duties. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.

Leave granted.

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