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Thursday, 28 July 1921

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - BROCKMAN. - Then he must have seen children there from the ago of three years upwards smoking cigarettes - and French cigarettes at that, the worst brand produced in the world. The smoking of cigarettes by youths may be a most pernicious habit, but it cannot be controlled by this Senate, nor stopped by any Customs duty we may impose on smokers generally. The proper place to deal with the habit is in the home by the use of the stick, and if the stick does not prove effective it is time for the State Parliaments to intervene and pass legislation prohibiting the sale of cigarettes to youths; but it would be futile and ridiculous for this Chamber to attempt to pursue the absurd course suggested by Senator Lynch.

Senator de Largie - There would be nothing to prevent the Australian youth from getting tobacco and making his own cigarettes.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - BROCKMAN. - Yes. If he cannot get tobacco he will smoke cane, and if he cannot get cane he will smoke tea leaves or brown paper. I know, because I have done all these things myself. I am rather inclined to agree . with Senator Duncan's -suggestion that there should be a decrease in the duty. I can speak of my experiences in 1912, when the Australian manufacturers did not have this huge protection, and yet had already established a big monopoly. I had occasion to act in a legal capacity for a Perth firm, which endeavoured to introduce on to the Western Australian market a new variety of tobacco and cigarettes, only to find that there was hardly a retailer in the State who would sell their wares, because they knew that the minute they attempted to do so the Combine would say, " If you sell that tobacco, or those cigarettes, you will sell none of our lines, which are - the best known on the market, and have the biggest demand." One or two retailers defied the Combine, and what happened ? Shops were promptly opened up next door which could get all the varieties controlled by the Combine, and the unfortunate individuals who attempted to fight went to the wall. If this duty is to be regarded as one which is likely to produce revenue, well and good; but if it is for the purpose of protecting the cigarette manufacturers of Australia, then I say that they have more than sufficient protection already.

Senator Duncan - Has not the honorable senator noticed the deterioration in the quality of the locally-made cigarettes?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - Yes, I have. We cannot deal with this monopoly simply by increasing the duty and attempting to prohibit the importation of cigarettes, because the increase would simply be passed on to the unfortunate consumer.

Senator Wilson - On the other hand, it would have the effect of building up the local monopoly.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - Of course. I urge the Minister to seriously consider a big decrease instead of a big increase in this duty. In fact, in order to test the matter, I shall take an opportunity of moving for a reduction.

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