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Wednesday, 31 August 1921

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Repatriation) . - Although Senator Duncan denied that he was seeking for a lower duty, it was quite obvious from his general remarks that his intention in moving for the elimination of the ad valorem duties is to leave only the fixed duties, which are lower than the ad valorem duties.

Senator Duncan - The honorable senator said that I had taken the opposite course on another occasion.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I say that on other items the honorable senator has moved for ad valorem duties. If the honorable senator's request is agreed to, the duty imposed on enamelled leather will be less than it is to-day. The Government proposal is that the duty shall be a fixed duty or an ad valorem duty, whichever is the higher. It is because the ad valorem duty would be the higher in the majority of cases that Senator Duncan, in the interests of importers of this class of leather, submitted his request. I have been greatly surprised that the honorable senator should decry the Australian manufacture of this article.

Senator Duncan - I do not decry it. It is an excellent article.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable senator said that it was not equal in quality to the imported article, and I was very much disappointed to hear him make that statement. I thought the time had gone by to decry the use of Australianmade articles, whatever our, fiscal faith might be.

Senator Duncan - I said that the local article is quite good enough for me.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I will take the honorable memberup on that statement. If the local article is good enough for him, it should be good enough for the people who require the imported article to pay a little more for it. Senator Duncan wishes to permit them to escape having to pay more for the imported article. I hope that the Committee will not, for a moment, entertain his request. If it is agreed to, I fail . to see how honorable senators can logically support any other Pro- tective duty included in the schedule. The honorable senator, with myself, has voted for many other duties which are without any more merit than those now proposed.

Senator Gardiner - Because he knows something about this item.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I suppose that we all do. When I get a circular about an item in the schedule I know that a day or two later that circular will be used in this Chamber in the form of a speech. The present duty, British, of 3d. per square foot would have been as low as 8 per cent, on the price which this commodity has brought of late years.' The Committee should not single out this industry for a higher measure of protection than has been afforded to others in the interests of people who prefer to wear imported leather.

Senator Duncan - I ask that they should be put on the same basis. The same thing has been done throughout the Tariff.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I say that they are on the same basis when we charge according to the value of the article. Senator Duncan says that in this case we should ignore value and take size. Honorable senators will understand that I personally object to a man being judged according to his size. The true standard in this matter is surely quality, and as in this case, as well as in many others, quality varies, the Government proposal is that there should be a specific duty or an arl valorem duty, whichever returns the higher amount.

Senator Duncan - And we should encourage the use of the inferior quality here.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable senator desires to encourage the use of the imported article. Local manufacturers of boots made from imported enamelled leather demand a high duty on boots, but they wish to be allowed to purchase their enamelled leather in the cheapest market. That is not logical. If they look for a duty on the goods which they have to sell they should not demur to a reasonable duty on the materials they have to buy.

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