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Friday, 5 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) .- It may be that the Australian manufacturers are really giving good measure, and that their boxes are not intended1 to hold! more than fiftymatches ; but' if there 5s- an unhealthy and disagreeabl'e. business it is the making of matches, and I cannot understand why Protectionists should notbe willing to leave it to the people of other countries. Australia possesses untold wealth which is yet untouched, and openings for all sorts of healthy and profitable industries, and it wouldbe much better to encourage these. No one would like his children to become match operatives.

Senator Senior - Has the honorable senatorbeenthrough the factory at Richmond?

SenatorGARDINER.- No.

Senator Senior - Then the honorable senator should visit it, and judge for himself.

Senator GARDINER - Senator Seniorknows all about everything, and he will not saythat the making of matches is a healthy occupation, because that would be contrary to all that we have read of it. I move -

That the House of Representatives be reguested to make the item, 'British, . free.

Request . negatived.

Item agreed to.

Item 74(Meats, poultry, game, and soup).

SenatorGARDINER (New South Wales) [2.41]. - I notice that there is a fixed duty in respect to most formsof imported meats, poultry,game, and soups, but that in respect of potted or concentrated meats and meat jellies, and preparations in dry form for making soup, an ailvalorem rate of 30 per cent. against Great Britain is provided. 'As I . said . before lunch, the imposition of an ad valorem rate requires the paymentof a higherduty,the morevaluable thearticle imparted may be.Iwould make 'the jnferior article pay the -higher duty.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Should not more duty be paid on luxuries Chan onnecessities ?

SenatorGARDINER.- My idea is to bring luxuries within the reach of the people I represent.There is 'no sense in demanding the payment of 80 percent. duty on an article of inferior quality and the same percentage on a more valuable article. Apparently the principle followed in framing this portion ofthe Tariff has been to apply fixed rates of duty, except where some firm has, perhaps, got the ear of the authorities and securedthe imposition of a special ad valorem irate to protect its product from competition it fears from outside. For potted or concentrated meats we havethe raw material in Australia, and inrespect ofthese commodities no other country could fairly compete with us, yet, strangely, these particular lines are singled out for a specially heavy rate of duty. It is quite . opposed to what intelligence dictates as the principle that ought to be followed, namely, to make the inferior article pay the higher duty.

Senator Payne - I thought that the honorable senator believed in the taxation of luxuries.

SenatorGARDINER.- I do not. I want thepeopleI represent to be in , a position toenjoy them. However, these preparations . are not luxuries. In the . back country, life is made more comfortable than it otherwise would be because people can take advantage of the efforts of science in successfullydemonstrating thatmeats and soups can be concentrated andpreserved in . small . containers.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - What about pâte de foie gras?

Senator GARDINER - People in , the back country get very littleof that. Those who prepare Tariffs take care that there is not enough money left to the consumer tobuy a gosling for Christmas,let alone luxuries. 'If Ihad my way,the luxuries would go to the people who earned ; themby doing the world's work; I would not allow anyparticular kinds of food or dress to be reservedfor one class, simply because others are not in a position to purchase them. I was ratherstruckby the argument we heardin regard to the quality of matches. In that case, we found that under these Protective duties good qualities and had all -pay the same rate; and I should 'like to know >why, in the case of the present item, adutyof 2d. per lb. should not be enough . for ; all. Why not have afixed rate,so 'that the people may know at once what has to fee paid ? Personally, Iwould insist on every grocer setting out, not 'only the price of thearticle he sells, but also the Customs duty paid upon it. If that were done, Protection would live just about as longas the income tax would if it were submitted to the people.

Senator Crawford - I do not think that any tax would live if the question of itsimposition were submitted to the people !

Senator GARDINER - I take quite a different view of the willingness of the community to tax themselves. At any rate, the people who sent me here are complaining of my trying to save them some taxation, so they are evidently prepared to pay their share.

Senator Crawford - In return for Protection !

Senator GARDINER - Out of which they get nothing, but out of which their employers get everything. The workers know that in the last resort they have to pay the tax, and when we come to articles that can be easily obtained from every storekeeper, I do not see why they should be made 30 per cent. or "40 per cent. dearer, simply because some rich company happens to get the ear of those who prepare the Tariff. The raw materials for these commodities are more easily obtained here than in any other part of the world.

Senator Russell - That is why we do not desire any importations.

Senator GARDINER - And yet we speak of our splendid workmen who, we say, have not their superiors anywhere !

Senator Russell - We export quite as much as we import. This is only pure vanity!

Senator GARDINER - If we have started to compete in the outside markets this duty is only sheer make-believe.

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