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Friday, 19 August 1921

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I should like to know if Senator Wilson thinks that 15 per cent. British preferential Tariff is sufficient to protect the local industries covered by this item. If he thinks it is, well and good; but if it is not sufficient, then it is merely a revenue duty, and, as honorable senators know, I never was a Revenue Tariffist. ' I want to know where we stand; and I shall be glad if Senator Wilson will help us by an explanation, because I look upon him as a Protectionist desirous of protecting the manufacturers of the Commonwealth. Do the Protectionists take the stand that 15 per cent. British Tariff is sufficient? If it is not, and if they regard this item as a revenue Tariff, then I am opposed to it.

Senator Senior - Where would you get the revenue from?

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - From direct taxation, because it would be obtained more cheaply. If, instead of collecting revenue indirectly through the Customs, our Protectionist friends would allow each individual citizen to pay the Protective duties direct, I would be prepared to support the imposition of as many duties as they desired, because the people would then know exactly what they had to pay, and Protection would not last a fortnight. A friend of mine, a staunch Protectionist, nurtured in this doctrine at Bendigo, in Victoria, obtained a position as a mining manager at Broken Hill, and in the discharge of his duties he was required to draw cheques for thepayment of duty upon imported machinery. He told me subsequently that, having had that experience of the working of the policy, he was not such a keen Protectionist- as he had been prior to taking up his position at Broken Hill. If the British duty suggested by Senator "Wilson is to be a revenue duty, I shall object to it; but if it can be demonstrated that 15 per cent. is a Protective duty, and is intended as fair protection for Australian industries, there may be some inducement for me to vote for it.

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