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Tuesday, 23 August 1921

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Repatriation) . - I am rather surprised that Senator Drake-Brockman, who is usually so logical, should appeal almost pathetically for information, which he seemed to think I might be in a position to supply, when it would appear that his mind was definitely made up, and that he was determined to vote for a reduction of the duty, regardless of the nature of the information given to him.

Senator Drake-Brockman - On the contrary, I said that I felt disposed to take a certain course.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) -The honorable senator upbraided Senator Lynch, his colleague, for not moving for a further reduction, and so convinced was he of the justice of his cause that he himself, although the silent member of this Chamber, as he put it, would be compelled to move a request for lower duties than were outlined in Senator Lynch's proposal. I think that Senator Drake-Brockman, and, I believe, every other honorable senator, has made up his mind as to his vote on this item. That is one reason why I have not taken a more active part iu the debate, but I shall endeavour to supply the information asked, though I recognise the futility of doing so.

Senator Wilson - I am quite open to b'i convinced on this item.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am satisfied that nothing that may be said is going to alter a single vote on the item. The reason why higher duties are proposed is that the implements in this item are a little more complicated. The process of manufacture calls for a little more skill and labour than is the case with implements included in the previous items. This principle has been observed in all previous Tariffs.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - The stump-jump plough is one of the easiest to manufacture.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I cannot say that I have ever made a stump-jump plough ; but I have sat behind one, and I know that it is more complicated than the ordinary mouldboard plough.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - But not compared with other implements in item 161.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am giving the Committee the reason which has moved the Department in the framing of previous Tariffs to place a higher range of duties on implements of this description. In the last Tariff the duties, I think, were 5 per cent, higher than on other implements, and as occasionally some respectful attention is paid to the recommendations of the Inter-State Commission, I remind the Committee that that body suggested that the duty should be 25 per dent. British and 35 per cent, general Tariff, with an additional recommendation that if its proposal regarding the iron duties were adopted there should be a further 2i per cent, duty on each of these items. That is exactly what is being done in this Tariff, with the difference that a column for the intermediate Tariff has been included.

Senator Lynch - The maximum in that case would be 37£ per cent.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Why make the general Tariff 40 per cent.?

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable senator, it appears, is taking exception to the policy of the Government of giving preference to British against foreign manufacturers. I am rather surprised, because I remember being very much impressed, prior to the elections, by a fine speech he made in favour of the policy which this Tariff is attempting to give effect to.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - We want to make the preference 100 per cent.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable senator- wants this to be on a mathematical basis, and becomes captious about the addition of 2i per cent, in favour of the Mother Country aeainst the foreigner.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Not at all.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I have endeavoured to show the reason why it has been thought desirable by the past - not by this - Government to impose a slightly higher range of duties upon the implements, mentioned in this item, and I point to the report of the Inter-State Commission's recommendation of the continuance of this -policy. If this Committee thinks the duties are too high, as, apparently, it does, I suggest that it should still follow the example which has been in practice for so lone, and move for duties a little hieher than those imposed in the previous items.

Senator Keating - These same rates of duty appear against a number of items in this division of the Tariff.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is another factor to be taken into consideration. Honorable senators in seeking the reduction of a particular duty in a somewhat arbitrary fashion overlook the desirability of maintaining some relation, over the range of duties, between one item and another, and thus that harmony which should mark a Tariff is destroyed. I beg honorable senators to maintain the necessity for preserving that relationship of one item to another which the framers of the Tariff have endeavoured to set up.

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