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Tuesday, 19 December 1911

Senator ST LEDGER (Queensland) (2:14 AM) . - At one time about a century and a half ago all one had to do to arouse every form of stupidity and prejudice was to utter the word " Papist. " Here one has only to use the word "Australian " to excite the same -stupidity and prejudice. To impose a duty of 25 per cent, upon paintings for the purpose -of encouraging Australian art would be just about as useful as would be a tax of 25 per cent, upon lying for the purpose of promoting truth. Such things cannot be protected by the imposition of duties. Art is not Australian; it is universal. It is not confined to any country, and recognises no geographical boundaries. It is absurd for honorable senators to speak of Australian, German, and English art when art is the heritage of the whole human race. Why should not the privilege given for the free admission of pictures which are to be presented to art galleries be extended to similar pictures imported for private individuals? SenatorRae has answered the question by saying that the public will have an opportunity to see pictures exhibited in art galleries, public halls, and cathedrals ; but we know that in many of our art galleries and public, halls there .are pictures exhibited which are outrages and travesties upon art. A muni,cipal magnate will commemorate some deal in which he has been concerned by getting some one to paint his portrait for exhibittion in the public hall, and many of our public halls are filled with that kind of awful rubbish. Our real Australian, artists are coming to the front. Mackennal, one of the foremost sculptors of to-day, is anAustralian ; so is Longstaff , the painter ; and others who might be mentioned. Such men do not fear competition. It is the hypocritical use of the words " Australian art " that shocks me. The object of proposing such duties as these is to enable certain people when they go upon the platform to claim that they have supported Australian art, and that certain other persons have not done so, and should, therefore, be downed. The artist who is not able, to hold his own the world over has no right to be called an artist.

Senator McColl - I ask leave to withdraw my request with a view of submittinganother.

Request, by leave, withdrawn.

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