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Tuesday, 19 December 1911

Senator ST LEDGER (Queensland) . - I confess that I have been labouring under a huge delusion in regard to this and other items of the Tariff. I forgot that themanufacturers of Australia were philanthropists.It is only now that this aspect of the matter has been put before me. When there was only one piano manufacturer in Australia, landhe was doing very well under the operationof a certain duty, somebody asked for a higher duty to be levied upon pianos. Then a second manufacturer entered the field, and again a demand has been made for a higher duty.

Senator Barker - The honorable senator asked for a higher duty upon bananas.

Senator ST LEDGER - 'Senator Barkeris very hard pressed when he has to resort to an argument regarding the duty upon bananas.It is rather refreshing to learn that we have been labouring under a delusion. Is it to be assumed that when we give manufacturers the benefit of a high duty, they will atonce lower the price of the article which they produce? I shouldlike honorable senators who differ from me in my fiscal views to look around and reconcile that theory with the bills which they have to foot in their own households. I cannot reconcile two absolute contradictions. What was the awful argument which we heard about Japan? We have squelched that now. Yet Senator Barker has the temerity to rise in his place, and to declare that, as the result of imposing these higher duties, we shall get cheaper pianos. But in my own household, I know that when increased duties are levied, I have to pay more all the time. I say that every argument which has been adduced in this connexion by my honorable friends is more or less of a delusion. These duties are really intended to benefit one or two monopolistic manufacturers.

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