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Thursday, 17 November 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - I have so far been waiting in vain for the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) to ask that we should press a request.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - When I am going to ask that, I shall move in that direction.

Senator LYNCH - A start in that direction has not yet been made. It seems to me that, so far, what we have been asked by the Government to do is to yield, I will not say subserviently, but quite humbly, to another place. The Government will make no effort at all to uphold the opinion expressed by this Chamber. The overwhelming weight of numbers in another place has caused the Government to yield there, and we are asked every time not to press our requests. The action of the Government up to date suggests that, in their opinion, the Senate should not touch the Tariff in any shape or form, nor even stand by its own matured opinion. I do not know what the Government may do later on, but, so far, they have not asked honorable senators to stand to their guns in connexion with our requests. The Minister said, in connexion with the last item we considered, that the request of the Senate was to impose a lesser duty on the finished article than on the raw material, and I point out to honorable senators that if we do not press our request on the item now under consideration, the duty on wire netting will be as proposed by another place - 68s., 85s., and 105s. - and when we come later to deal with the wire from which barbed wire and wire netting is made, the fact that we have not reduced the duty on wire netting will be used as an argument for keeping up the duty on the wire from which it is made. We have requested a reduction of the duty on the wire from which wire netting is made from 52s. to 44s. per ton in the British preferential Tariff, and if we do not press our request on the item now under consideration, that will be used as an argument for maintaining the duty on the wire as proposed by the House of Representatives. We should do something to enable the users of wire netting throughout the Commonwealth to reduce the expense of carrying on their operations. Orchardists, small farmers, and a multitude of poultry-raisers throughout the Commonwealth, will be hit hard by the duties imposed in another place. People who must wire-net their holdings to keep out . rabbits and others pests will have to .pay through the nose. The Committee on a previous occasion said that they should not be called upon to pay so highly and requested a reduction of the British preferential duty on wire netting from 68s. to 55s. per ton. I think it is only fair that we should make the same request again. I hope that in this matter the Committee will not drift into the unsatisfactory position which it occupied in the last division, when three or four honorable senators, under a misapprehension, I think, voted with the. Government and thereby imposed a higher duty on barbed wire than they had previously decided should be imposed. I hope they will make a stand on this occasion and rectify their mistake by enabling users of wire netting to obtain it at a cheaper rate.

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