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Wednesday, 24 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New .South Wales) .- When Senator Lynch describes my references as uncalled for, he only tries to evade the issue. He says that I should have used my influence with the members of my own party, but I remind him that when the debate on this Bill began, I said that if the Labour party had been ' in power it was more than likely that, owing to the exigencies of party government, I should be found doing what Senator E. D. Millen is doing to-night in trying to pilot the Tariff through the Senate. Senator Millen and Senator Pearce are older as Free Traders than I am. I am quite aware of the Free Trade speeches they have delivered. I had intended, in dealing with the schedule, to feed them up with them. I read them, and found that they were such excellent speeches that I really could not throw them at those honorable senators merely because they happened to be in the position in which I might have been placed myself had the party to which I belong been in possession of the Treasury, bench. \ Australians would appear . to have been so hypnotised, shall I say, by the word " Protection," that they seem bent on trying to make themselves rich by, taxing each other. ''

Senator Earle - The- honorable senator is the only one 'who is right. '.

Senator GARDINER - I am not the only, one who is right, but I appear to be the. .only one who is trying to draw the world i back to the old policy of allowing trade to , seek its natural channels. , Indolence, or perhaps, climatic influences, / appear to . have made some . people . shut , their, eyes to what i.3 . wrong, ' and ' remain silent while they listen to error. I quite admit that in standing for Free Trade to-day, I am up against the whole of the members of my own party. The reason I can use no influence with them in this matter is because they all think that I am wrong, and that, perhaps, on the fiscal question, I am a bit of a crank. But I am addressing thirty-five members of the Senate, whose chief declaration on the plati 0111 outside has been loyalty to Great Britain, and I point out that their loyalty does not extend to trading with that country. What disadvantage would it be to the Australian manufacturer if British goods were imported free? Our manufacturers cannot make all the articles we require, and why should not some of the cash which we have to spend on those articles go. to the people of. Great Britain.. I can understand that Senator Lynch should feel hurt, when I expose his position, and that 'of his colleagues in this Chamber. It does hurt for a public man to be shown, when brought face to face with his platform professions, tha.t he does not ring true. That ie what has been happening in the debate on this schedule. I should like to show Senator Lynch some of the letters I have received from men who have been Protectionists all their lives, pointing out that this Tariff goes to extremes and includes duties that no one has asked -for. I suppose that the farming industry employs more men than are employed by all the manufacturers of agricultural implements taken together. But when it comes to a question of Protection, the farmer cannot pass the duties on to any one. He must pay them out of his scant earnings for long hours of labour. I have said that the farmer does not work so hard as does the mechanic, nor does he. He could not work for ten or twelve hours a day under the same strain as the mechanic is subjected to, who works for eight hours and never loses a minute, like the nail-maker of' old, who, if he made one mis-hit with his hammer, never picked 'it up all day. The farmer works in God's glorious sunshine, inhaling oxygen and enjoying conditions which -I should like to see every* worker in Australia in a position to enjoy. The factory worker gets up from his breakfast to catch a tram, and remains within the walls of a workshop for eight hours, with perhaps a break of half-an-hour or three-quarters of an hour for his lunch. The farmer must have something to eat before he starts his work in the morning, and then he comes along and has a meal at breakfast-time. Scones and coffee are carried to him at 11 o'clock, and at 12 o'clock he returns to his lunch.

Senator Earle - The honorable senator must have been on a good farm.

Senator GARDINER - I was, and do I not show good results from it? At 3 o'clock the farmer sits down in the shade of a tree and enjoys his afternoon refreshment. I am speaking now of the ordinary farmer, and giving honorable senators a description of the real thing. One might stand at the side of a fence and watch him with his reaper and binder, and as he comes past the second time might congratulate him upon doing the work so beautifully, and he will stop at the fence and yarn about it for an hour.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - If conditions of labour are so much in favour of the farmer, does the honorable senator not think that he might be called upon to give a little help to the workmen in the factories ?

Senator GARDINER - The honorable senator does not grasp the purpose of my argument, which is to show that the farming life is the ideal life for every Australian man or woman. Sir Joseph Carruthers has been talking recently of 1,000,000 farms for 1,000,000 farmers in New South Wales alone, and I have been trying to explain the conditions under which the farmer lives. I mentioned that the farmer had afternoon tea at about 3 o'clock. At 6 o'clock he gets enough to keep him going until supper at 8 or 9 o'clock. He may then have to feed his horses before he goes to bed, to rise again at 3 or 4 o'clock in. the morning. That is the ideal farming life.

Senator Bolton - Have you ever tried

Senator GARDINER - I have. During the pneumonic-influenza scare I worked for four months on a New South Wales farm, never setting foot in any municipality in the whole of that time, and I came back here much improved in health. If we could only get this schedule through I would like to go back and have a few more weeks of the same life. Unfortunately, by means of this Tariff our farmers are to be handicapped for the best part of their lives. The burden of taxation is altogether too heavy. I want to make conditions more congenial. I have heard it said that if a man desires to start farming on a reasonable scale, equipping a moderately-sized farm with up-to-date machinery, the handicap imposed upon him by this Tariff will amount to £625. I believe that I have been told, and I know it is true, that the cost of one farming machine alone is £325, and the duty upon it £93. This should make us realize the awful nature of the burden that has been placed upon the farmer. In four or five years' time many honorable senators will be seeking the suffrages of the electors again, and, no doubt, will tell the people what they are prepared to do in the interests of the primary producers. They will pledge themselves to make almost any sacrifice so long as they can win the farming vote. This Tariff shows what is being done for the agriculturists of the Commonwealth. If we took a statesmanlike view of the position, we would realize that in proportion as our primary industries are encouraged, so will our secondary industries be developed.

Request negatived.

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