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Thursday, 22 April 1915

Senator GRANT - There are many factories which could not be built in three years.

Senator Russell - Then how do you expect the importations to be stopped ?

Senator GRANT - A Protective Tariff does not stop the importations in any country. The United States, which is looked upon as the home of high .Protection, derives practically all its revenue from the taxation of imported goods.

Senator Russell - It imports less per head than any other country.

Senator GRANT - It imports quite sufficient to enable it to get practically all its national revenue from that source.

Senator Findley - Are we to understand from that that you have become a convert to high Protection.?

Senator GRANT - I was only stating facts. I was not expressing any individual opinion. I simply pointed out that the Tariff was not keeping out, and was not intended to keep out, foreign-made goods. The only reason for its imposition is to produce revenue so as to avoid the necessity of placing extra taxation upon companies like the Scottish absentee organization called the Van Diemen's Land Company.

Senator Findley - Then we can hope for higher duties and less revenue from you ?

Senator GRANT - The honorable senator cannot yet tell what he may get from me. I should certainly make the land value tax sufficiently heavy to compel companies like the Van Diemen's Land Company to promptly dispose of their estates, and allow people who desire to use them an opportunity to do so.

Senator Bakhap - You have taken all their revenue already.

Senator GRANT - They still hold on to their land.

Senator O'Keefe - They have been selling it rapidly since the land tax was imposed.

Senator GRANT - In the Ministerial statement I read that in the Federal Capital Territory, approximately 650 men are employed, and it is expected that the number will be increased by another fifty or more. That is very well so far as it goes, and indicates that, in a somewhat slow manner, the Capital site is being developed, but I want to enter my protest against the action of the Home Affairs Department in refusing to comply with State awards.

Senator Russell - Which award do you mean?

Senator GRANT - I refer particularly to the award of the United Bricklayers Society of New South Wales, which provides, amongst other things, for the payment of 14s. 6d. per day. The Home Affairs Department is not' paying that rate. There is no reason why it should not. Its action is causing unnecessary friction. If the State Government can afford to pay the rate, and private employers can afford to pay, and do pay it, the Home Affairs Department should certainly be called upon to pay it. The award also provides that the railway fares of bricklayers should be paid to the point at which they are to be employed. The Home Affairs Department absolutely refuses to do this. That is not fair, either to the New South Wales Government or to private employers. A paltry action of that kind is not worthy of the Department, and should not be tolerated. I hope the Department will look into this matter, and see that the New South Wales awards are observed in the case of men from New South Wales employed at the Federal Capital. I do not say that all men working on the site should be drawn from New South Wales, but those who are there should get the benefit of the awards of their respective States. I- hope the condition there is not typical of what prevails on other works throughout the Commonwealth. I have heard no extensive complaints of awards being violated on other works carried out by the Department, and I hope that the Government, when they carry out works, will not seek to take advantage of the necessities of people who are out of employment by refusing to pay their railway fares or the rates fixed by State awards.

I do not know when the proposals to amend the Constitution will be submitted, but I should like to see them placed before the public at an early date. I do not want to see done anything that would interfere with the work of the Defence Department in rendering all possible assistance to the Home Country. If I thought that the submission of the referenda proposals or any other measure would interfere with that to any extent. I should not support it. Every effort ought to be concentrated on seeing that Australia does its part in the great struggle now going on, but I do not believe that it is necessary that we should absolutely shut up shop and do nothing but conduct our warlike affairs. The Government ought to embrace, as soon as possible, the opportunity to place the referenda proposals before the country. "We are undoubtedly very much handicapped by our constitutional limitations, as was recently shown by the action of the New South Wales Government in regard to the wheat supply. No one imagined a few months ago that any State could take such action under the Constitution as New South Wales took. It appeared to the lay mind to be a direct interference with the provision of the Constitution for absolute freedom of trade between the States, but the lay mind cannot read these things in the same way as the legal mind can. I trust these Bills will be placed before us in the near future, so that the public may again have an opportunity of saying whether they are prepared to clothe the Commonwealth Parliament with the powers with which we on this side, at least, believe it ought to be clothed. Whatever else may be done, I hope the Government will not leave anything undone to assist the Imperial Government to the best of their ability to carry the war to a successful conclusion.

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