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Thursday, 11 August 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - I have been particularly impressed by the ingenuity of the Go-1 vernment in their efforts to squeeze revenue from this particular commodity, which is made dutiable at 20 per cent., from the countries from which it really comes, and 15 per cent, from the Mother Country, from which it does not come. In endeavouring to preserve something Uke a balance between the taxation of what I call the necessities of the people and the taxation of luxuries, the Government in this Tariff have marked the difference between the two by 5 per cent. I disagree with my colleague Senator Drake-Brockman on this subject, as I consider that silk is a luxury. In the Tariff as originally introduced, it was dutiable at SO per cent, in the general Tariff column, but for some reason not stated by the Minister it is now proposed that it should be dutiable at 20 per cent. It must be a source of gratification to the wharf labourer who lives at Toorak to find that he is asked to pay 15 per cent, on his dungaree, whilst the lady of fashion who lives at Collingwood or Footscray is asked to pay a duty of only 20 per cent, on her silk dress. According to the Government, the difference between rich and poor is 5 per cent. That is the Government policy up to date, as disclosed by this scientific Tariff. The Minister does not attempt to suggest that this is a protective duty. What the Government have managed to do is to mark the difference between the denizen of Pott's Point and the denizen of Footscray by 5 per cent. Unlike Senator Drake-Brockman, I suggest that in this particular matter the Governmentshould return to the frame of mind inwhich they were when the Tariff wasoriginally introduced, and' impose a reasonable duty of 30 per cent, on this articleof luxury. If we desire to do justice to- the man who wears dungarees we should not charge him 15 per cent, duty on it if we only charge a duty of 20 per cent, on silk. I think that the Government should make a wider difference between the duties on silk and on dungarees than 5 per cent. Therefore I intimate that I intend to move for an increase in the general Tariff on silk beyond the 20 per cent, fixed in the schedule.

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