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Thursday, 1 July 1926

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) . - It is needless for me to enlighten the committee concerning my views on fiscalism. I do not think I have ever given a vote other than in the direction of encouraging Australian industries. In common with other members of the committee, I expressed the hope that the establishment of the picture producing industry in Australia would be possible ; but that hope was of recent origin. Had the members of the Federal Parliament been desirous of assisting the film producing industry in Australia in years gone by, they could have given some concrete evidence of their sincerity in the tariffs which have been introduced into the Federal Parliament. What were the duties imposed on imported films under the tariff to which Senator Greene referred ? The rates were - British1d., intermediate lid., and general1½d. Senator Greene admitted to-day that those duties were not protective duties, but were essentially for revenue purposes. I am not a revenue tariffist. As a representative of the working class, I know that pictures are a popular form of entertainment to the masses engaged in the hard workaday world. There are, of course, good, bad, and indifferent pictures. Some are tropical, some are semitropical, and others temperate. Some who have spoken in support of the duties agreed upon in this chamber a short time ago, including Senator McLachlan, said thatthey supported higher duties because pictures shown in Australia were displeasing, and not in any way elevating. Some productions, they asserted, created an atmosphere which, in a sense, was responsible for some of the crimes that are committed. Because Senator McLachlan held such opinions, he was anxious, not only to retain a duty of2½d. per foot, but to prohibit the importation of pictures.

Senator McLachlan - I would.

Senator FINDLEY - We are discussing this subject from a fiscal view-point.

Senator Hoare - From a moral viewpoint.

Senator FINDLEY - We are discussing it from a fiscal stand-point, as the moral standard of pictures is left to the censor. We are not here as censors, but as legislators to do our best in the interests of the Australian people.

Senator NEEDHAM (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - The imposition of a duty will not improve the moral tone of pictures.

Senator FINDLEY - Whatever duties are imposed, pictures will still come to Australia.

Senator Hoare - We can at least try to raise the standard.

Senator FINDLEY - Is it the desire of honorable members to impose such duties as will prohibit American pictures coming to Australia ?

Senator Hoare - I would stop them to-morrow if I could.

Senator FINDLEY - If the imposition of higher duties would result in the picture-producing industry being established in Australia, I would adopt a different attitude; but we are assured that it will not have that effect.

Senator Ogden - Higher duties will bring in more revenue.

Senator FINDLEY - I am just coming to that point. These are essentially revenue duties. The proposed rates are, British, free; intermediate,1d., and general, 2d. a foot. It is estimated that the additional revenue will be, approximately, £90,000 annually. By whom will that be paid? Not by the film producers, but by those who attend picture entertainments. Whatever duty is imposed will be passed on.

Senator Thompson - With a little extra.

Senator FINDLEY - Exactly. I have always been opposed to an entertainments tax.

SenatorNeedham. - It has always been an injustice.

Senator FINDLEY - Higher duties will mean imposing an entertainments tax in a worse form, because in fixing an entertainments tax, we knew the additional amount which patrons would have to pay ; but in this instance we do not know what they will be charged.. When this item was last under consideration, I supported higher duties, in the honest belief that the Australian picture-producing industry would be encouraged; but I have since discovered that that will not be the case. I had the pleasure of viewing two Australian pictures - The Sentimental Bloke, and Ginger Mick - the production of which was not- made possible by the imposition of high duties. As Senator Reid said, such productions appeal to human instincts, and if they could be produced under the old rates, there is no reason, provided the capital is available, why other similar pictures cannot be produced under the proposed duties. I am of the opinion that higher duties will be a tax upon those who attend picture shows, and particularly the working classes; and I therefore intend to reverse the vote which I gave on a former Occasion.

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