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Friday, 26 August 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) .- Will the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) explain why the very big preference of 20 per cent. is given to imports from the United Kingdom under this item ? I do not know whether there is any fixed standard, but we find that sometimes a preference of only 5 per cent. is given, while in others a preference of 10 per cent., 15 per cent., and 20 per cent. is granted. This principle can be run to death. How much arewe going to pay for it? If there is to be no fixed standard, we shall probably be jumping from a preference of 20 per cent. as in this case to one of 40 per cent. or even more. When are we going to give our own people a little preference ? The appearance of the word ' ' free ' ' in the preferential column may be taken to indicate that the articles mentioned in the item are not made in Australia or likely to be produced here. Freedom from the imposition of duty is one thing, but the emphasizing of the preference to the extent of imposing a general duty of 20 per cent. is giving Britain greater favour than she seeks or requires, and is at the same time unduly, and, therefore, unreasonably, taxing the Australian public. The general rate is too high!

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