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Tuesday, 30 August 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - It is gratifying to me to have the support of Senators Vardon, Keating, and Payne in this matter. Having listened to the arguments advanced, they can see the anomaly which the Minister cannot perceive in this, the most inconsistent and tragic sub-item of the Tariff. Even now I appeal to the Minister to postpone its consideration, or promise a recommittal after consultation with the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene). I appeal to him to stay short of finalizing the matter.

Senator Pearce -The item will not be finalized, because we are already sending a request relating to one of the sub-items to the House of Representatives. But I am not going to give way to the honorable senator, even if he talks all night.

Senator Keating - If we submit a request to the House of Representatives in relation to one sub-item, will it be open to them to deal with other sub-items?

Senator Pearce - It was frequently done when the first Tariff was under consideration. Our requests were agreed to subject to alterations in other items.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not deserve the innuendo in the Minister's remarks when he said that he was not going to give way to me however long I spoke or whatever I did.

Senator Pearce - You will not wear me down by persistence.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not wish to do so. I am endeavouring to talk reasonably and clearly on the timber duties. I am extremely sorry that the Minister has taken up this attitude in view of the courtesy disolayed to him in the past, and even on this item. When he askedme to withdraw my request in connexion with the bee-keeping industry I did so, but now that an absolutely conclusive case has been put forward for further consideration of a sub-item he adopts the attitude of " take it or leave it." I hope that he will suggest some way out of the difficulty.

Senator Pearce - The way out of the difficulty is to take a vote of the Committee.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am afraid to do so. I am afraid to take a vote of senators who have not heard the discussion. Senators Gardiner, Payne, Vardon, and Keating, have all heard the debate, and realize the position pointed out by Senator Duncan and myself. Not one honorable senator has defended the attitude of the Minister. He is like a voice crying in the wilderness.

Senator Pearce - Then the honorable senator ought to be all the more ready to take a vote.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - No doubt the request will find support from honorable senators who have been listening to the debate, but it may also be opposed by honorable senators who have not heard the debate.

Senator Pearce - You are responsible for that, because they have tired of listening to you.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - SometimesI have tired of listening to the Minister wrongly applying information in respect of one item to quite a different item. At all events, I know what I am talking about on this subject. I have taken some trouble and time to arrive at a conclusion as to what is a fair thing. I have not the advantage the Minister has in having at my back the chief official and another high officer of the Customs Department, and also a Ministerial secretary to feed me, sometimes with wrong information, such as the Minister has given to-night. I extremely regret the attitude of the Minister. It is not reasonable. I could describe it as something else. However, I can do no more. I hope that the Committee will see eye to eye with the reasonable request put forward by Senator Duncan. When a division was taken on the duty on log timber, there was a recognition all round that anomalies would be rectified. The only rectification of any anomaly has been an increase of1s. per 100 super. feet in the duty on undressed timber. I believe that it was generally recognised that there was an anomaly in respect of box timbers before that, and I am greatly surprised to find that the Minister has taken up an adamant position.

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