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Thursday, 3 June 1926


Senator KINGSMILL (Western Australia) . - The situation is becoming more amusing as the debate on the tariff schedule proceeds. It seems now that the Government is taking up the attitude of a certain newspaper published in Australia, which proposed to prohibit tha importation of vacuum cleaners, which it was argued were expensive, in order that some people might have more money to spend on silk stockings and corsets. I have heard many arguments on lines similar to that since we entered upon the general debate on the tariff, but it seems to me that the whole matter resolves itself into a consideration of the general principles on which a tariff ought to be framed. I certainly do not think that a tariff ought to be framed on principles based on such arguments as those to which I have alluded. By passing items like this we shall be building up industry on artificial lines; we shall be building around Australia a tariff wall to bolster up, possibly, inefficiency on the part of both employers and employees, and we shall be unable to compete with the rest of the world. Thinking as I do on this subject, I cannot submit meekly to the people of Australia being victimized, as they are being victimized by a tariff such as this. I do not feel disposed to support the item as it stands, and certainly I could not vote for the further increases suggested by Senator Findley.


Senator Findley - I have not moved my amendment yet.


Senator KINGSMILL - I am aware of that, but I can see by the determined look in the honorable senator's eyes that he is prepared to put up the duty by 100 per cent. The manufacturers and the employees would then do very well indeed. There . appears to be an understanding which, though tacit, is perhaps all the stronger, to support the imposition of these higher duties, in the hope that higher wages will -be paid to Australian workmen. This accounts, undoubtedly, for the attitude of honorable senators opposite, with the exception, possibly, of Senator Grant,- who appears by some strange freak of chance to have strayed from the fold. There is no consideration for the consumer. He has the money at present. How long he will keep it, I do not know. The fact that I, proportionately, represent more of those consumers than honorable senators from other States with the exception perhaps of Tasmania, as well as my distaste for any attempt to build up industries on an absolutely artificial basis, accounts for the attitude I am taking up. I intend to vote against any proposal to increase the duties. Indeed, I feel inclined to support lower duties.







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