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Friday, 5 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I move-

That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-items (a) and (b), British, free.

In my opinion, there is not much danger of competition from Great Britain, and the more free we make the Tariff in this regard the more decent we shall appear. If my request is adopted we shall, at any rate, show some kind of desire to trade with the Mother Country. Surely we can permit these children's and invalids' foods to come in without adding to their cost by means of a Tariff ? Our pastures are certainly rich and wide enough to meet any competition.

Senator Russell - It is because we can produce these commodities so well that we do not desire that there shall be any importations. All such foods that are not made in Australia are admitted free.

Senator GARDINER - I do not quite understand that last remark.

Senator Russell - In the case of a pure baby's food, it is admitted free ; but a number of such foods are common to all countries, and we can produce them more readily than they can beproduced elsewhere.

Senator GARDINER - Take the case of an old British firm, which, for a hundred years, has been manufacturing such foodstuffs by means of some secret process. When people, who know the virtue of such a food, endeavour to buy it, they are offered a substitute by a local company, a substitute which has not those properties which give value to the old British recipe. However, Protection is so blind and stupid as not to take into. consideration the real value of such articles. If a commodity is produced here that looks like something else, then for Tariff purposes it is something else, and the real article is shut out. Surely the Government ought to relent when it is a matter of children's foods. Only one or two Australian companies are affected by this duty, and they ought to be able to compete, in view of the seacarriage and other charges. We all know from the letters we receive how good Protection is for the individual, and how bad for the community - that is the whole history of Protection. Apparently, whenever a company that is interested presents a case, that case is accepted by the Government.

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