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Wednesday, 21 March 1928

Senator CRAWFORD (QueenslandHonorary Minister) . - Had I thought for a moment that a knowledge of the Government's attitude towards Senator Payne's proposal would have any effect upon Senator Thomas, I should have spoken earlier in the discussion on this item. This freetrade Ephraim, however, ".is joined to idols," and so I propose to "let him alone." The Government is supporting the request moved by . Senator Payne, because . it considers this new industry deserves a larger measure of pro- tection than it has hitherto received. It is true that the request if agreed to, will have the effect of reducing the margin of protection at present enjoyed by manufacturers of garments consisting of the particular kinds of fur which it covers. But it is quite . erroneous to argue that the only protection the manufacturers will have will be the 15 per cent, difference between the proposed duty upon rabbit skins and the present duty on the made-up garments. They will have the full 5.5 per cent, duty on the cost of manufacture abroad. They will have the 55 per cent, duty imposed upon the foreign manufacturers' product, and also a margin of 15 per cent, on the fur, to all of which amounts must be added the 10 per cent, added to cost before the duty is assessed. There will therefore still be a considerable margin of protection. It must be admitted that . 55 per cent, is a very substantial protection. Those who have spoken in support of Senator Payne's request, have made out a very good case. It commends itself to the Government, and without desiring to injure any industry I shall have no hesitation in supporting it.

Senator Duncan - If the report of the Tariff Board is no use in' this instance, why is it in any other? If the board is of no use we should abolish it.

Senator CRAWFORD - The Tariff

Board is a useful institution, and, in accordance with its report, we have, at the instance of the furriers of Australia, substantially increased the duties on fur trimmings under item 112. It is wrong, however, to suggest that the Tariff Board is superior to Parliament, and trial when a proposition commends itself to a majority of members, Parliament should not. declare its inability to reach a proper decision.

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