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Wednesday, 23 November 1921

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) . - Like the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen), I do not propose to go over the arguments which were used when this item was previously discussed in this Chamber; but I think it well to briefly direct the attention of honorable senators to the history of the item. When originally introduced iu another place, the proposal was to impose duties of 25 per cent.. 30 per cent., and 35 per cent, on vessels n.e.i., not exceeding 500 tons. That is to say, the Government recognised that it was possible for vessels not exceeding 500 tons to be built in Australia at once, and the proposal was that the duties should be operative on vessels of under 500 tons at once. When the. original proposal was considered in another place, honorable members demanded that the duties proposed should also come into operation on and after 1st January, 1923, on all vessels" exceeding 500 tons Inter-State, or Intra-State, employed in Australian waters for any continuous period of three months. So that when the Tariff arrived here, it proposed that vessels n.e.i. under 500 tons should at once be subject to duties of 25 per cent., 30 per cent., and 35 per cent., and that on vessels over 500 tons the duties should be deferred, and should come into operation on the 1st January, 1923. We requested that the House of Representatives should still further defer the operation of the duties until the 1st January, 1925. Honorable senators will remember that Senator Pearce, who was then in charge of the Bill, moved to defer the operation of the duties from 1st January, 1923, to 1st January, 1924. I .had suggested a period even more remote than 1925, and had almost entreated the Minister, because I believed that was the sense of the Committee, to at least defer the operation of the duties to a later period than 1924. Senator Pearce then indicated that if I moved that the duties should be deferred until . 1st January, 1925, he had observed the opinion of the Committee, and would let the amendment go on the voices. I moved accordingly. The Minister, agreeably to his promise^ let the amendment .go on the voices, and it was decided that we should request the House of Representatives to defer the duties to 1st January. 1925. Honorable senators will realize that, iu common with those with whom I share the honour' of representing Tasmania, I feel very strongly about any proposal that might interfere with the possibility of plenty of shipping being available for communication with Tasmania. Since then honorable senators have observed a -strong feeling among 'the producers in New South Wales, especially in those localities adjacent to the coast where they are depending upon shipping facilities for the transport of their produce to market. A strong feeling of appreciation has also been manifested concerning the action of the Senate, and a feeling of resentment against the attitude of another place in dealing with our request. Little need be said concerning the desirableness of standing fast to our original request, and I believe honorable senators will realize that in extending the period from the 1st January, 1923. to the 1st July, 1923, there has not been anything in 'the way of a concession on the part of another place. We requested that the imposition of duties be deferred from the ' 1st January, 1923, to the 1st January, 1925, and considering the unanimity which characterized our action, 'the appreciation which followed it, and the resentment which appears to have marked the attitude of another place, especially on the part of producers on the mainland and those in the State of Tasmania, I sincerely trust the Committee will press its original request. If another place cannot support the original request to the extent I desire, perhaps it will be disposed to go further than the 30th June, 1923, which is ah extension of only six months of the period mentioned in the original proposal .

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