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Wednesday, 23 November 1910

Senator RAE (New South Wales) . - I trust the Committee will do nothing of the kind. I shall not vote with the Government on this item. It is against Labour principles to give more protection until we have made sure of what we have already given. We are pledged to the principle of new Protection. I have never held . any extreme views regarding Protection. I do not think that it means the salvation of this or of any other country, but I am prepared to give protection to the extent of 1,000 per cent., if there is a bigger thing behind it. Still, I do not see why we should be asked to penalize one industry in order unnecessarily to foster another. It appears to me that the Minister has not made out a good case for the proposed increase in these duties.

Senator McGregor - Does the honorable senator not see that while these articles are dutiable at only is. 6d. per cwt. an- . other line of goods used for the same purpose is dutiable at 5s. per cwt. ?

Senator RAE - I never went "nap" on uniformity for uniformity's sake. I . like to see some good reason given for bringing about uniformity. That it will save Customs officials a certain amount of trouble is not a good reason for putting outsiders to a great deal more trouble. One of the principal articles of our faith is to secure protection, not only for the manufacturer, but for the employ^ and the consumer. If we get the indorsement of the people at the proposed referendum we shall compel protected manufacturers and producers to share their protection with their employes, and give some guarantee that they will not extort unfair prices from the consumer. Until we have some assurance that that blissful state of equilibrium can be brought about, we are pledged not . to give further protection through the

Tariff, and I consider that we shall be. going widely beyond the scope of a measure for the rectification of anomalies if we increase to such an enormous extent the duties on these strawboards. I am credibly informed that it will strike a tremendous blow at the manufacture of boxes out of this material, arid we know that the finished product of one industry is the raw material of another. It appears to me that the admissions of the Honorary Minister that these mills are working full time, that they are producing all that they can possibly produce, and that it is intended to start another mill, are evidence that the industry already enjoys a sufficient measure of protection. For my part, it will receive no further protection until the public are assured that the employes in it are going to get a fair deal, and that the consumers are not to be fleeced.

Senator Barker - The mills are not even paying good wages to their employes.

Senator RAE - So I understand. Before we grant any increased protection to manufacturers, I want to be sure that the workers and the public are going to get the benefit of the new Protection.

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