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Friday, 29 July 1921


Senator REID (Queensland) . - When Senator Guthrie rose to draw attention to this question I was about to ask the Minister (Senator Russell) why a duty on sheep had been imposed. I come from a State where there are millions of sheep and cattle, and I am convinced that this item will not be of any benefit to the industry. Senator Guthrie, who speaks as one who knows, has clearly shown that a duty of this kind is not calculated to encourage breeding or to improve our stock. The imposition of such a duty, suggesting as it does that we are trying to keep stock out of the country, is a rather bad advertisement for Australia. I shall support the placing of this sub-item on the free list. As to the supply of fat stock on the market, we must not lose sight of the fact that with better railway facilities there would have been no shortage during previous droughts. There are parts of Queensland where enormous quantities of fat stock are produced, and if during the last drought there had been reasonable railway facilities stock could have been brought from those districts to the southern markets. As it was, they could not be travelled because of the long stages without water. Since then our railway facilities have been improved, and I do not think we shall suffer in future as much as we have done. In the interests of the consumer this duty should be removed. I do not know to what extent he will benefit, because, after all, those who import fat sheep will get the price prevailing for mutton in Australia.


Senator Senior - But that price would be plus this duty.


Senator REID - That is so. The Minister (Senator Russell) has emphasized the fact that the revenue raised from the duty imposed in connexion with the importation of stock has helped to pay quarantine expenses. According to Senator Guthrie, it was only during the 1914-15 drought that sheep were imported fromNew Zealand, and the Customs revenue raised from that source was practically negligible. Apparently, it will be only during drought periods that the Government will derive revenue under this item; and, seeing that the effect of the duty will obviously be to add a little to the price of meat during periods of scarcity, I think the imposition might well be wiped out.







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