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Thursday, 17 November 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) . - The statement of the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) concerning what happened when this item was previously before the Committee is quite correct; and no one was more surprised than I to find the form in. which our request went to another place, because I had a good deal to do in connexion with the request for a 10 per cent. duty under the general Tariff. I was horrified to find that such an error had been committed which left the duties in the British and intermediate Tariffs at 20 per cent. and 25 per cent respectively, and 10 per cent. in the general Tariff. I move -

That the word "not" be left out with a view to insert after "pressed" the words " with the following modification, viz., make the British preferential Tariff free, and the intermediate Tariff 5 per cent."

My intention is to leave the general duty at 10 per cent. Honorable senators debated the question very fully when the item was previously before the Committee : but perhaps they need to be; reminded that in the item before this we allowed dog trapsfrom Great Britain to be admitted free, and a small duty to be imposed on the foreign article. The destruction caused by dogs when compared with that occasioned by rabbits is infinitesimal. Babbit traps are manufactured in Australia, and traps are being imported in large quantities; but the imposition of high duties has had the effect of considerably curtailing the work of rabbit trapping.

Senator Crawford - What do they cost per dozen?

Senator PAYNE - Thirty-six shillings, as against10s, 9d: in normal times. As one who has lived in infested districts, and who knows the expense to which trappers are put in obtaining a suitable trapping outfit, traps should be made available at the lowest possible price, to enable this pest properly dealt with. I know of many men and boys who would be rabbit trapping at present if the traps could be secured at a lower rate; and, as every consideration should be extended to those who are making a living by destroying this vermin, I trust the Committee will decide to reduce the duties. Honorable senators are fully aware of the difficulties with which rural workers have to contend if they desire to use their land to the best advantage. 'In many instances their blocks are surrounded by scrub country, in which the rabbits seek protection, and from which they emerge and destroy the valuable crops of unfortunate settlers.

Senator Vardon - Does the honorable senator think this duty will prevent them purchasing traps?

Senator PAYNE - It will prevent them purchasing the number they require, and if the honorable senator lived in a district where they were a pest he would realize the importance of low duties. There appears to be no justification for1 the enormous prices which are asked for traps, apart from the fact that high duties have been imposed. Hitherto they have been admitted free, but today there are duties of 20 per cent, on British traps, and 30 per cent, on those manufactured in other countries.

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