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Wednesday, 10 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - It does not require a very heated reply from me to answer the statement made by Senator de Largie in response to mine that there was no duty on oil. My statement is not strictly correct if the whole period of mining is taken - into consideration. In 1891 a Protectionist Government came into power, and during their term of office imposed certain duties. An appeal was made to the country in 1894, when that Government was removed from office, with the result that the imposts were removed.

Senator de Largie - In 1895.

Senator GARDINER - Yes. A Free Trade policy was in force in New South Wales until 1891, and from October of that year until 1894 a Protectionist Government managed to exist. When we realize that Sir William Lyne was a member of the Cabinet it is not difficult to imagine the introduction of a Protective Tariff. But the duties then imposed had nothing whatever to dp with the development of the Joadja mine, because it had been in operation for years before.

Senator de Largie - It had been struggling.

Senator GARDINER - It was being worked, and the oil duties were imposed only while a Protectionist"- Government were in office. Technically, it may be said that' there was a Protective duty on oil, but in reality such was not the case, because the people of New South Wales would not tolerate the imposition of unnecessary duties. The " tricky ". quotation of Senator de Largie has been submitted in an endeavour to create the impression that if the duties had not been removed the industry would have thrived, but such is not the case. The honorable senator has said that the duties were imposed to assist the mining industry.

Senator de Largie - That is so.

Senator GARDINER - They were imposed merely because Sir William Lyne was a Protectionist, and believed in raising revenue by imposing Customs duties. They were not levied to protect industries, because the industries of New South Wales are quite capable of protecting themselves. What is the position of business men engaged in the industries with which we are dealing? The stearine candle manufacturers have secured the earof the Minister (Senator Russell), and he is using the Tariff as a means of assisting one section of manufacturers to the detriment of another section.

I desire to make a brief reference to the statements of the Minister concerning the products of what he terms " blacklabour" countries. If there is anything discreditable to this Parliament - and it is more discreditable when a Minister is involved - it is the use of contemptuous and despicable expressions concerning the products of black labour. I believe in the White Australia policy because I do not wish the coloured races from foreign countries to mingle with our own people; but I believe that we should be permitted to trade with them in their own country on a fair basis. Tea grown by coloured labour is admitted free, and why should we decline to trade in other commodities with business men in foreign countries?

These contemptible expressions concerning black labour can appeal only to the ignorant, and instead of pandering to our local manufacturers, as we are doing, an effort should be made to trade amicably and freely with people who are of a different colour from our own . I sometimes wonder, when it is said that our neighbour, Japan, is threatening our liberty, if statements such as those used by the Minister are not likely to make that threat a reality. Why should he refer to the coloured races in such contemptuous terms?

Senator Russell - I was merely referring to the economic conditions prevailing in foreign countries.

Senator GARDINER - The Minister is pandering to sentiments which are not acceptable to the majority of the people by endeavouring to arouse feelings of animosity towards the coloured races. In effect, the Minister has said, " We cannot import wax from Rangoon because the people who live there have coloured skins." It is mean and despicable to submit such a proposition to any Parliament. We are asked to interfere with the importation of paraffine wax. because the stearine candle manufacturers do not wish to encounter competition.

Senator Russell - I was referring to the economic conditions.

Senator GARDINER - The Minister should be very careful in the language he uses, and when he reads the proof of his speech he will see the manner in which he referred to the economic conditions in other countries. I enter my strong protest against an attempt to interfere with the White Australia sentiment by statements such as those made by the Minister. Surely it is not contended that we should not trade with other countries because the people are of a different colour ? We want Australia for British people and for Europeans who become British by their association with us. We should exchange our commodities with those of other nations, and there is no reason why we should insult our foreign neighbours merely because their skin is of a different colour.

Senator Lynch - Has not the White Australia policy, which thehonorable senator supports, the principle of Protection as its basis?

Senator GARDINER - The honorable senator does not require one to explain my attitude towards Protection. I realize that Protectionists, feeling that they cannot compete with other nations, require a barriersuch as this Tariff to protect them. British people can compete with other nations without any such protection. We have in Australia the stearine and paraffine wax candle manufacturing industries, and it is evident that the stearine candle manufacturers cannot compete with the imported product, and have appealed to Parliament, through the Minister, for assistance. There has been a direct and deliberate attempt to increase the price of a raw material required in the manufacture of paraffine wax candles by 50 per cent. , and the Minister has made it quite clear that he is endeavouring to assist one industry to the detriment of another.

Senator Russell - Wax candles are sold to grocers at 8d. per lb. and stearine candles at 9½. per lb.

Senator GARDINER - That may be so; but the Minister is assisting one industry and retarding the development of another.

Senator Russell - The stearine candle is dearer, and the honorable senator wishes to increase the price.

Senator GARDINER - Not at all. I am not asking for increases, but merely suggesting that the duties under which industries have thrived may be allowed to remain. , Those engaged in the wax candle industry say that if the old duty remains they will be able to employ large numbers, because they will be able to secure their raw product at a reasonable price, whereas if the duty is increased by 50 per cent, they cannot continue. If we are to impose heavy duties on commodities required in an established industry to benefit another undertaking of a similar character, I do not know where we will end. I am in favour of the old duties being retained, because they were sufficient to enable these works to conduct operations on a profitable basis. I am against, any alteration of the previously existing duty on wax, because business mcn in a position to know say that the increased duty proposed means the closing up of one of our industries.

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