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Friday, 9 March 1928

Senator THOMPSON (Queensland) . - When the schedule was passed by another place it was viewed with alarm in Queensland. At a largely attended meeting of the Rockhampton Chamber of Commerce which was held on the 15th December last, a unanimous protest was made, and Queensland senators were asked to do what they could to have the former position restored. The proposed preferential treatment means a differentiation against the Dutch East Indies to the extent of 50 per cent. That is sufficient to cause the complete stoppage of our importations of coffee from that country.

Senator Kingsmill - And a corresponding resentment.

Senator THOMPSON - Indian coffee is dearer than that which is imported from the Dutch East Indies. Therefore the Australian consumer would have imposed upon him an additional tax. The reply of the Dutch East Indies would inevitably be the withdrawal of their open-door policy. I do not think we can afford to take the risk. Senator Guthrie has referred to the value of the trade which we do with them. At one time Holland supplied 55 per cent. and Australia 44 per cent. of their requirements of butter. The figures for 1926 show that Holland in that year exported toits dominions only 61/2 per cent. of its requirements of that commodity, while Australia supplied 93 per cent. I understand that the quality of butter which we send there cannot be exported to London. That is an advantage which cannot be lightly foregone. Our imports of coffee in 1925-26 totalled 3,750,000 lb., of which the Dutch East Indies supplied 2,062,220 lb., and India 809,160. Our exports to the Dutch East Indies in 1926 were as follow : -


Our total trade, according to the latest figures that I have, amounts to £6,209,694, comprising imports £4,607,681 and exports £1,602,0.13.

Senator Guthrie - The exports last year were valued at over £2,000,000.

Senator THOMPSON - An aspect of the matter that may appeal to honorable senators opposite is that many secondary commodities which might not otherwise find a market are being sold to the Dutch East Indies. I am pleased that the Government is willing to restore the position to what it was formerly.

Request agreed to.

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