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Friday, 29 July 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - From the remarks of Senator Crawford I thought he would conclude with a proposal for a reduction of the duty. The honorable senator is an acknowledged authority on sugar production; he knows that the confectionery industry depends in a great' measure, if not absolutely, on a supply of cheap sugar, and he tells us plainly and unequivocally that the chocolate manufacturers are having a right royal time with profits. We are informed that the value of the finished product is ever so much more than that of the sugar used, to the extent of something like 400 or 500 per cent. We all know the extraordinarily high prices at which chocolates are sold; but Senator Crawford touched on this phase of the question very lightly - not even with a feather duster - because the confectioners are good customers of the sugar-grower. But where does the consumer " come in " ? We have a proposal to impose duties of 3d. and 3$d., ot, alternatively, 30 and 40 per cent., whichever returns the higher rate, according to the proviso always inserted for the benefit of the revenue. It may be assumed that a duty of 40 per cent, is lower than 3W. per lb., so that we have an impost in the neighbourhood of 45 or 50. per cent. All this shows that we are imposing altogether uncalled-for duties in the name of Protection - duties which- are eventually reflected in an increased cost to the consumer on many necessaries of life. In the United States of America, in the colonial days, a very modest commencement was made; but subsequently there was the McKinley Tariff - which shocked the world, and shut out many manufacturers, including British - with duties running from 30 to 40 per cent. Then came the Dingley Tariff, with even higher rates of about 50 per cent. Here in Australia, with a population of 5,000,000, and an undeveloped industrial organization, we are creeping quite close to the standard attained by America, with a population of about 100,000,000. That, in my opinion, is running Protectionmad, arid I speak as a Protectionist. In support of the view I take, I could not call more incontestable evidence than the speech ofSenator Crawford, who proved that the manufacturing of sweets is a highly profitable industry, but sat down without submitting any proposal. With a view of entering a protest, I move -

That the House of Representatives be requested to amend section (2) of sub-item

(b)   by leaving out the word "higher " and inserting in lieu thereof the word " lower."

Senator Bolton - Can the Minister give the price per lb. of imported unsweetened cocoa paste?

Senator Russell - I am unable to supply the information, as no separate record is kept of the quantity imported.

Request negatived.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does sub-item e include lemon peel?

Senator Russell - No.

Item agreed to.

Item 45 (Copra) agreed to.

Item 46 (Egg albumen, dry).

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