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Thursday, 4 August 1921

Senator CRAWFORD (Queensland) . -It would be a very serious mistake for the Senate to attempt to settle a matter of high public policy on any item of a Tariff schedule. I am just as anxious as is any one else for the development of the Mandated Territories ; but Senator Gardiner's proposal is to admit duty free products that will compete with commodities raised in the tropical part of Australia. To be consistent, the honorable senator should propose that all commodities from the islands should be admitted free. I would not be in favour of that; but why should he suggest that two or three items which are raised in tropical Australia should be selected to compete on equal terms with the products of Mandated Territories in which there is an abundant supply of cheap labour? In those islands it is possible to produce, not only tropical fruits, but also citrus fruits, yet Senator Gardiner allowed the last-named item to pass without any suggestion that consideration should be given to the islands in respect of it. The islands can produce maize in great abundance, but I am certain that the Committee would not at this stage admit maize from the Mandated Territories free of duty, because the industrial conditions under which it is produced are so radically different from those existing in Australia. If we admit free of duty the commodities produced in cheap-labour countries, eventually our own industries w!111 be swamped, and there will employment for our own people.

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