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Tuesday, 19 July 1921

Senator DE LARGIE (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I have pointed out 'that the Board of Trade Journal indicated the articles upon which the 33$ per cent, duty was to be collected.

Senator Russell - The law referred to is in force to-day. It was passed . on account of the exchange.

Senator DE LARGIE - I can understand such an explanation from a Protectionist like Senator Russell, but it is difficult to account for any explanation of the passing of such a measure by a Free Trader, who would contend that the more dumping the better, because to obtain goods at the cheapest possible price is the cardinal principle of the Free Trader's fiscal faith.

I have explained that when the first Federal Tariff was under consideration there was a good deal of talk of reciprocity of trade, and now that we have the Tariff again under review , we should bring the need 'for . reciprocity of trade prominently under the notice of people of the "Old Land. When I was in 'Scotland four or five years ago, I . mentioned this matter to a number of 'business men I met there. "Nob one of 'them, was aware that, in. Australia, we gave preference to imports from the Old Land. I put it to them to say whether it was fair that, in the matter of imports of her produce, Australia should be treated by "the 013

Country in just' the-' same way as- a foreign, nation, or as a German enemy. I pointed, out that, at- the time, there were, countries that were making money, out of the. war. I mentioned. Argentina as a neutral country, and pointed out that that country was in direct competition with Australia in wool, meat-,, and wheat,, as her products went- on to the British market at the same time as ours.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - And their, meat was given -a preference.

Senator DE LARGIE -I am not aware of that, but we know that we. got no preference in the. Old Country. Australia made nothing out of the war. We sacrificed: 60,000 of our . best citizens, and shouldered a- burden of something like £300,000,000 in connexion, with thev war, whilst Argentina and. the. mother country of Argentine-, Spain, remained . neutral, and made money out of the- war. We were spending, our' resources on the Empire, and if the Empire is to be something, more than a, name, we- are- entitled, to expect- that our products- will be given- the same preference in the Old Country that- we give here to the products of Great Britain: In the< circumstances, I consider it an opportune, time to bring this matter of real, reciprocity 'of trade, well, to the front. I am pleased to say that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) is doing something: in, this, direction in the Old Land at. the. present' time. I. have been surprised that soma people in Australia should 'have sought- to take political advantage of his absence in. the Old Country, ju9t. now.- He da making heroic efforts., in the interests of' Australia;, and yet we hawei the Leader of the-so-cailled Cbunfcryj party (Dr. Earle Page)! asking that- he -should "come back and face- the music"' He is- doing- useful) work for Australia- in the Old' Land. I hope< he will' takie> no heed *of' those who" refer to him in this^ way, but' will' continue his work until he has accomplished -something. Senator Wilson.- I' Chunk that Dr. Earle- Page- qualified* his1 remarks' to that extent.

Senator DE LARGIE - I hope that- he did. E6r. his own credit, it would have been better if he had never said, anything at. all on. the. subject. If the. members of the. Country party represent "the primary producers, , as their name would' indicate, they 'should - recognise that there are . no people- in Australia who stand to gain more from Mr. Hughes' work-in the Old Country than do the primary producers.

In conclusion, I should like to say . that I consider there' are indications of a change of fiscal faith in the Old Land. I think that such a change will be forced upon, thei authorities' there before long, There: are" more Conferences than that to which Mr: Hughes' has been- delegated going on! in London at the- present times Most important negotiations! are! at pre* sent being carried on between Mr. Lloyd George and' the head of the- Irish Republic; De- Valerav I hope; and I am con* fident that it is- the; hope also of every other- member of the 'Senate, that the- two peoples' will shortly- come < together in peace; and- will find it possible- to remain within the one Empire. In my view,: it would be- a misfortune if anything. were to- prevent Ireland continuing' withi-ii the British Empire. [Extension of time granted.] I thank honorable senators for granting me an extension of time. I shall not trespass much longer on their patience:- I should like, to say that> in my opinion, Ireland has. a great deal more to lose by being outside the British Empire than by being within it. If she were an. independent Republic, she would have ta provide an- armyi and navy to- de? fend 'herself 'against somei of the bigger nations of tho'world. I believe that the great majority- of ' Irishmen' at Home and abroad' desire that Ireland 'should remain within the'Ernpire; wben'the'-unfdrtu-nate antipathy and1 hatred- between the peoples have1 been brought to an- end by the reasoning 'out of their differences1.' If Ireland remains within the1 Empire,-' and is granted', in common with- the- Overseas Dominions, the right ta'make- her own laws, and fiscal autonomy; it- seems certain that she- will adopt' the- Protectionist principle of fiscalism. If she' should do so, Great Britain would'then have greater season to- change her - fiscal1 faith. It is impossible, to believe that with so many colonies and overseas. Dominions, the heart of the Empire can. go on for ever without reviewing her fiscal, policy to suit the -altering circumstances. I believe that Great Britain is about to undergo fiscal changes. We have a right to present to the consideration of the... people of that country, the- adoption of reciprocity-, of trade with Australia that will be to their and our advantage Great Britain cannot hope to supply her own requirements in wheat. As Mr. Hughes pointed out the other day, Canada and Australia can supply all the wheat Great Britain requires. At the present time, she gives neutral, and even enemy, countries the same advantages in her market that she extends to her own Dominions; and we are, I think, entitled to greater consideration at her hands. So far as I was able to sound the opinions of the people I met in the Old Land, I am satisfied that they would generally be prepared to give an affirmative reply to a request by Australia for preferential treatment in the way I have suggested. Reciprocity of trade should be adopted between the various component parts of the Empire and the Old Land, and it should prove beneficial to all.

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