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Friday, 29 July 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - The argument advanced by Senator Drake-Brockman that coffee is a luxury is completely answered 'by the figures quoted by Senator Russell showing that nearly 2,500,000 lbs. of coffee were imported last year; the duty yielding a revenue of £29,000. There are few people engaged in the industry, and al-, though it has had the advantage of both a protective duty and a bounty, we find that, like the ' old horse under the auctioneer's hammer, it is " Going, going, almost gone!" It is for the Committee to say whether we should allow the Treasury to benefit to the extent of £29,000 a year by continuing this duty and to that extent adding to the cost of a very necessary household -requirement while at the same time there is no immediate prospect of encouraging the industry.

Senator Pearce - Think of the poor, . struggling citizens who call for coffee at the Hotel Australia!

Senator LYNCH - In Senator Pearce we have a Daniel come to judgment. On entering any humble caravanserai in the Commonwealth a man is invariably asked, "Will you have coffee or tea?" but a visitor to the Hotel Australia ie never asked that question. With him it is a matter of champagne or beer. The honorable senator's suggestion is " too thin." It would be better, as Senator Duncan has said, to reduce the duty by one-half and to set aside £15,000 per annum to provide an annuity for those who are at present engaged in the industry. Even then we should be £15,000 a year to the good, in so far as effecting a reduction in this wholesome article of diet is concerned. We are not here to make the Tariff a mere tax-raising device. Our object should be to frame a Tariff that will encourage industries which stand in need of encouragement and not to support any wild-cat scheme for raising revenue without the compensating advantage of establishing an industry. That is the position in this case.

Senator Crawford - Unless coffee is a luxury.

Senator LYNCH - .Senator DrakeBrockman's argument in that respect falls to the ground. Even in the most humble restaurants in his own State a man is asked whether he will have coffee or tea. I am sure no honorable senator desires to destroy an industry that has the least chance of succes, but it has been shown that this industry, although given every chance, is steadily declining. I move -

That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (a) free.

Senator Sir THOMASGLASGOW (Queensland) [3.8]. - I support the request made by my colleague from Queensland, that the duty as fixed by another place should stand. I recognise that the statistics which have been quoted show that the industry has not progressed, but I have to inform honorable senators that only recently a move has been made to increase the production -of" coffee on the Buderim Mountain, in Queensland. A good many tropical products are grown in that district, and I know that coffeeplanting there is. on the increase.

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