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Friday, 1 May 1936

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) . - The concluding remarks of the Minister's speech are an aggravation of the offence. Previously, the duty on biscuits imported into Australia was 3d. per lb. ; now it is proposed to admit biscuits from the United Kingdom free of duty. The committee should remember the Minister's statement that butter and sugar cost more in Australia than in England, thereby placing the Australian manufacturer of biscuits at a disadvantage. This industry demonstrates that for the glorious privilege of charging ourselves a great deal more for our own products we send our surplus overseas and sell it at world parity. According to the Minister's own statement, the manufacturer of biscuits in the United Kingdom is given an advantage over his Australian competitor.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Yet we beat him.

Senator COLLINGS - The Minister rejoices that, in spite of that disadvantage, Australian biscuit manufacturers can beat their competitors in the English market. The Government now suggests that we shall give to the British manufacturer a further advantage, so that the Australian manufacturer will find it more difficult to heat him. It is proposed to take away the duty of 3d. per lb.

Senator Hardy - Does not that show that the Australian industry is efficiently conducted?

Senator COLLINGS - It shows at least two things. First, it demonstrates that the Australian workman is capable and compares more than favourably with the best workmen- of other countries. It also shows that immediately an Australian industry becomes successful beyond the possibility of dispute, the Government proceeds to commit fiscal assault and battery upon it. However, I realize that it is useless for the Opposition to attempt to delay the passing of the item, because the Government has a majority sufficient to pass it. This, however, is an industry which deserves the best that we can give to it.

Senator Hardy - Has the Opposition received any protest from the biscuit manufacturers ?

Senator COLLINGS - I can understand an honorable senator with the outlook of Senator Hardy being moved only by kicks from the rear - protests from people behind the scenes. Unlike him, members of the Opposition have an Australian outlook and do not wait for others to point out dangers. They have sufficient perspicacity to realize where the nation ie drifting. Had the Government taken the advice of the Opposition it would not now be occupied most of its time in trying to lift itself by its own boot straps. Senator Hardy asks whether any protests have been received from the biscuit manufacturers. The Opposition has not received any protests from them. It is not affected by protests.

I take this opportunity to reply to a. statement made last night, that the circulation by outside interests of a document drawing attention to statements made by Senator Hardy in other sessions, had prompted me to participate in a cruel persecution of the honorable senator. I have not been moved in that way. When I have thought that Senator Hardy's treatment of me has deserved it, I have looked up Hansard, feeling certain that I could convict the honorable senator out of his own mouth. I thank the Minister for his assurance that the situation in regard to maize will be watched, and I hope that he will take similar action in relation to biscuits.

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