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Wednesday, 23 November 1910


Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) (Honorary Minister) . - Senators Millen, Vardon, and Givens have inferred that, because of the existence of a paper mill in close proximity to Melbourne, and because of the influence which has been exerted by those who are interested in that mill, the Government have been induced to submit certain amendments to the Tariff. Manifestly that is an unfair statement to make, and one which ought not to be made unless those who are responsible for it can (substantiate it. I wish to say distinctly that not a single firm in Australia has approached the Department with a request for any of the amendments which are contained in the schedule to this Bill. Ever since the Tariff of 1908 came into operation the Department has experienced extreme difficulty in giving full effect to the intentions of Parliament. We know that glaring anomalies exist, and these having been brought under the notice of departmental officers throughout Australia, the Government felt that the time had arrived when they should be rectified.


Senator Vardon - In this trade, but in no other.


Senator FINDLEY - The honorable senator stated in one breath that the amendment proposed will not hurt anybody, because there will be no importation, and in another breath he declared that the effect of the amendment will be to bring in additional revenue.


Senator Vardon - Why do the Government desire to .impose an increased duty?


Senator FINDLEY - To bring about uniformity.


Senator Vardon - Why not reduce t.h* duties ?


Senator FINDLEY - If we proposed to reduce the duties upon ruled and unruled paper, in order to secure uniformity, those, honorable senators who profess to be Protectionists would vote with us. But when we propose to increase duties they are opposed to uniformity.


Senator Vardon - Who has complained of these two items?


Senator FINDLEY - I do not know that anybody has complained of them. But when it was proposed to rectify anomalies in regard to paper and boards of various descriptions it was deemed desirable to deal with stationery and boards in a comprehensive way.


Senator Givens - It is strange that this is the only industry which is to be dealt with in that way.


Senator FINDLEY - If the Government had decided to deal with the fruit industry, it would have dealt with it in a comprehensive way.


Senator Givens - But the Government took good care not to touch that industry.


Senator FINDLEY - Because, as the,' Minister of Trade and Customs has explained, the fact that a duty of 2s. per. cental is levied upon green fruit, whilst only is. per cental is imposed upon bananas,, does not constitute an anomaly. When Parliament dealt with the duties upon fruit in 1908 it knew exactly what it was doing. The departmental officers experience no difficulty in distinguishing green fruit from bananas.


Senator Millen - Cannot the departmental experts distinguish between ruled and unruled paper?


Senator FINDLEY - In the departmental view both articles come under the heading of stationery.

VARDON (South Australia) [9.35]. - The Honorary Minister has admitted that, under the existing Tariff, no hardship is inilicted upon those engaged in this industry.


Senator Findley - But there is a strong reason why we should secure uniformity.


Senator VARDON - Surely if the Tariff is working satisfactorily, if none of the manufacturers are suffering hardship, an alteration need not be effected merely for the purpose of obtaining uniformity.


Senator McGregor - Is nobody to be studied except the manufacturers t


Senator VARDON - Who has complained ?


Senator Guthrie - The Customs Department.


Senator VARDON - What complaint has the Customs Department made? Surely if anything can be easily identified it is paper of this description ! Senator Findley. - There is another difficulty in that stationery in packets is required to pay twice as much duty as is stationery not in packets.


Senator VARDON - The Department of Trade and Customs was established for the purpose of giving effect to the will of this Parliament.


Senator McGregor - And it does so.


Senator VARDON - If the Ministry are going to do things in this fashion, God help us.







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