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Tuesday, 8 June 1926

Senator GRANT (New South Wales) . - Any adjustment of the tariff presents almost insuperable difficulties. Some honorable senators have informed us that all their lives they have been protectionists; yet, even at- this late hour, they are unable to agree regarding what may be fairly termed a protectionist as against n revenue tariff. We have had a tariff in operation sufficiently long for honorable senators to have made up their minds. Of what use is it for honorable senators to say that this is a protective tariff when we know that every year the revenue from the Customs House is increasing? This year it will probably amount to £42,000,000. Some honorable senators still proclaim that they are protectionists, ignoring the fact that a protectionist tariff does not exclude foreign-made goods. It would appear that some among us have a suspicion that the tariff does, in fact, increase the price of the commodities that are taxed. A genuine protectionist does not admit that; but in the minds of Senator Kingsmill and others, the imposition of import duties not only increases the cost of the imported mining machinery, but may even have the effect of dealing a death-blow to an already harassed industry. Honorable senators who have been so consistent in their support of the Government have been afraid to call! for a division.

Senator Duncan - Is the honorable senator referring to the Deputy Leader of the Labour party (Senator Needham) ?

Senator GRANT - In this instance, the Deputy Leader of the party to which I belong is supporting Senators Kingsmill, Payne, and Lynch. He is entitled to do that; I shall not object so long as I am allowed the same freedom. Some time ago Parliament, after having considered the imposition of additional Customs duties, appointed a Tariff Board to weigh the evidence for and against the imposition of import duties, and to make recommendations. In this case, the Tariff Board recommended that the duty be increased to 40 per cent. I am delighted to find Senators Lynch, Kingsmill, Payne, and Thompson, all ardent supporters of the Government, getting what they deserve. They are being forced to swallow what the Government gives them.

Senator Thompson - If the honorable senator will help us, we shall not swallow this.

Senator GRANT - The honorable senators whom I have mentioned represent States where mining is an important industry. Yet the Government which they support is determined, presumably on the recommendation of the Tariff Board, to impose an additional 12-& per cent.duty on mining machinery. That Senator Kingsmill has described as a death-blow to the industry; although I doubt whether he believes what he says.

Senator Payne - Is the honorable senator in favour of decreasing the duty?

Senator GRANT - I am supporting the Government's proposal in preference to that advocated by some of its own supporters. Night after night Senators Kingsmill, Lynch, Payne, and Thompson have supported the Government in connexion with this tariff schedule. Now that they are being given some of their own medicine, they do not like it; they squeak and squirm and squeal in a disgraceful manner. If I were a supporter of a government which advocated a policy of this kind, I should tell it to go ahead; but I would not squeak in the way some honorable senators are doing.

Senator Thompson - Is not the honorable senator a freetrader?

Senator GRANT - I am what is termed a land values taxer. The first article of my political creed is that the people who own the country should pay the taxes. According to some honorable senators, the mining industry should pay the taxes.

Senator Thompson - And the honorable senator is helping them

Senator GRANT - Senator Thompson and others are supporting a government which, to quote Senator Kingsmill, is prepared to deliver a beath-blow to the gold-mining industry. They should CrOss the chamber and take their places among the intelligent senators on this side. If they are so opposed to a 40 per. cent, duty on imported mining machinery, why do they not ask for the complete removal of the duty? They are not game to do that.

Senator Kingsmill - That is because we are not unreasonable.

Senator GRANT - Honorable senators are deceiving themselves. The schoolmaster is abroad aud is scrutinizing their actions. I regard them as arrant humbugs!

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Newlands - The honorable senator is out of order.

Senator GRANT - I have no desire to say anything offensive ; but I was unable in other language to convey my opinion of certain honorable senators. I should have liked the Minister to tell us the value of the machinery imported during the past few years for mining purposes, and the amount of revenue derived from that source. He might also have informed us what amount of additional revenue he expects to receive from the increased duty of 124 per cent. It is of no use for Senator Lynch, who has been an ardent protectionist all his life, to think that he can get protection in respect of certain articles and freetrade in respect of others, and not expect other honorable senators to claim the same privilege. He must know that people engaged in the engineering industry who are industrially well organized can make their voices heard more effectively than can those engaged in the gold-mining industry. Every Government will listen to the voice of those engaged in secondary industries. That is why this tariff has been introduced. The Minister referred to higher wages necessitating higher duties, and, later, an appeal to the Arbitration Court, resulting in still higher wages and a demand for further duties. At present the turn of affairs is in the direction of additional duties. Those honorable senators' who now are having a taste of their own medicine must tamely submit to it. When a division is taken they can find an excuse to retire; and the Government will win every time. I shall not forget that Senator Lynch voted in favour of increased duties on whisky. In that case the duty represented 700 per cent. Now he opposes the imposition of a duty of 12£ per cent.

Senator Kingsmill - That is national prejudice.

Senator GRANT - I sometimes feel tempted to move " That the question be now put," but I shall not do so. I repeat that the Government will win in connexion with every item. We may as well pass the schedule as it is, and proceed with other business.

Senator Lynch - I intend to support the request, and if it is not carried, I shall move a further request.

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