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Tuesday, 9 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) .- In this item the Tariff is imposed according to value. Duties imposed according to the value of an article are most obnoxious and pernicious. This item covers oilmen's stores not elsewhere included - I do not know what are the stores elsewhere included - groceries, including culinary and flavouring essences, non-spirituous, soap dyes, and condition foods n.e.i. ; food for birds in packages for retail sale; goods put up for household use n.e.i.; and goods n.e.i. put up for retail sale. Let us see how the proposed duties will work. Instead of saying that the duty on an article such as a flavouring essence shall be so much per ounce, or per lb., or per gallon, the item says that it shall be so much according to the value of the essence, which means that the duty on a gallon of essence worth £1 will be 4s., and that on a gallon of essence worth £2 will be 8s., so that the more valuable the essence the heavier the duty, the inferior article being taxed less than the good article.

Senator Payne - Quite right, too.

Senator GARDINER - It is quite right if the desire is to encourage the importation of rubbish, and to keep out articles of good quality.

Senator Senior - The duty on vanilla essence is the same as that on- essence of lemon, although lemons are grown in this country and vanilla is not.

Senator GARDINER - What good reason is there for taxing exorbitantly products that we cannot produce here? No doubt, vanilla would grow in Queensland. I have seen the vine growing in Fiji, and know that it would grow in parts of Queensland.

Senator Crawford - Vanilla has been grown there.

Senator Senior - But vanilla essence has not been made in the Commonwealth.

Senator GARDINER - To my mind, it is not wise to tax a good article more heavily than a bad article. I would like the Minister to propose specific rates for all these things. Then the better articles would be at an advantage. Even the most enthusiastic Protectionist cannot wish for the importation of inferior articles. What is of poor quality, and perhaps even dangerous to health, should not be at an advantage over an article of good quality, manufactured with exceeding great care. To test the feeling of the Committee, I move -

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

This is the line that I intend to take on all these items. I have no wish to delay the Committee unnecessarily, but, as the Minister (Senator Russell) will not accept reasonable suggestions for expedition, and seems determined that the schedule shall pass without the alteration of a line, or even of a comma, I shall try to induce honorable senators to make some alterations.

Request negatived.

Item agreed to.

Item 80 -

Onions .... per cwt., 6s.

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