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Thursday, 4 August 1921

Senator KEATING (TASMANIA) - Is the honorable senator speaking of a revenue Tariff?

Senator GARDINER - Is this a revenue Tariff? It has been described by the Minister as a scientific Protectionist Tariff.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I ask the 'honorable senator to discuss the sub-item before the Committee.

Senator GARDINER - I was merely referring to the fact that the Minister has described this as a scientific Tariff.

Senator Russell - That is hardly correct.

Senator GARDINER - I shall quote from Hansard to prove that what I have said is .correct, if the Minister doubts me.

Senator Russell - The honorable senator asked me if it was a scientific Tariff, and surely he did not expect me to reply in the negative.

Senator GARDINER - The duty on prunes has been increased by 50 per cent, with the object of encouraging more people to undertake prune-growing, and to assist manufacturers in extending their plants. But we have been doing that for years under a Protective Tariff, and what has been the result? After years of what has been considered by the Protectionists a sufficient duty, we now find that the industry is in such a precarious position that the duty has been increased by 50 per cent. If we proceed as we are going, in ten or twenty years' time we shall be asked to impose a duty of 100 per cent., because the .producers will not then be in a better position than they are in to-day. We are now asked to place prunes on the same basis as other dried fruits by reducing the duty by Jd. per lb.; but when such a proposal is submitted the Minister will not budge. If we continue in this way the Tariff discussion will never end. Personally, I would like to see the whole schedule disposed of by to-morrow.

Senator Russell - Perhaps it would be if the honorable senator had his own way.

Senator GARDINER - I am not likely to get that, because it would be futile for me to move in the direction I desire. I have already suggested that it would be advantageous to take a page at a time, and I -trust the Committee will agree to my proposal. One of the Government supporters has moved to reduce the duty by Jd. per lb., in order to place prunes on the same basis as other, dried fruits.

Senator Russell - The honorable senator does not believe in a duty of 4d.

Senator GARDINER - I do not believe in any duty at all; but I am prepared to compromise in an endeavour to make some progress. The Minister says that the duty had been fixed at 4id., and he will not agree to any reduction or any increase.

Senator Russell - The proposed rate is l£d. below what the producers consider fair in the circumstances.

Senator GARDINER - I suppose the Government considered a duty of 3d. per lb. adequate in the first instance, and now they are supporting a duty of 4 1/2 d. As the Committee may wish to divide on this sub-item before the dinner adjournment, I shall not detain honorable senators longer at this juncture.

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