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Wednesday, 31 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I am always pleased when Protectionists give information concerning the effect of duties. I have no doubt that the factory on the Richmond River to which Senator Elliott has referred as having closed down, is one of those factories that had to get its plant and material from abroad, and twelve months' experience of this Tariff has caused its close, as it has- caused the close of many other factories. Senator Elliott tells us that the factory was closed down because 15 per cent, duty on these articles is not sufficient, and he thinks that 25 per cent, would revive it. The honorable senator overlooks the fact that the proprietors, of the factory have had to pay higher wages because the prices of boots, hats, clothing, and everything else has gone up owing to the duties imposed by this Tariff. With high prices everywhere, a factory closes down, and the honorable senator looks to the little item in the Tariff, and attributes its failure to the fact that that duty is not sufficiently high. That is quite in accord with Protectionist intelligence. Eighteen months' operation of the Tariff has brought about more unemployment in Australia than we had for fifteen years previously.

Senator Senior - When was the Tariff introduced ?

Senator GARDINER - In March, 1920, and that is not very far from eighteen months ago. These duties have caused factories all over Australia to close. I have been very much obliged to Senator Lynch for the information that an excellent wood is to be had in Western Australia from which axe handles can be made. The honorable senator "cannot blame me if I have been ignorant of the fact, because I cannot purchase axe handles made of that wood in Sydney.

Senator Lynch - We have had New South Wales axe handles in Western Australia.

Senator GARDINER - I bought some of them, and I had toput up with the curses of the men who had to use them. They took their axes into the bush, and cut handles for themselves in preference to those with which they had been supplied.

Senator Lynch - Were the New South Wales axe handlesso bad as that?

Senator GARDINER - They were, compared with the kind of axe handle which is necessary for effective work. There are men who think that woodchopping is not expert work, and men who cannot tell the difference between a good and a bad axe handle. I know the difference, and I know that men who are accustomed to use axes prefer to pay 3s. 6d. at Anthony Hordern's for a hickory handle to- purchasing any other handle, even at1s. This is not the result of prejudice, but of a knowledge of the work they have to do.

Senator Pearce - Last night, I was opposing increases of duties, and the honorable senator voted against me. I cannot please him either way.

Senator GARDINER - I remind the Minister that there are three columns in the schedule, and it affords great scope for discussion. I think the time has come for a compromise. The Minister will not be likely to get the Bill through very quickly if he is prepared to accept any stupid request which his own supporters may make. It makes me angry to see one or two men, for the sake of one or two factories, interfering with the business of thousands of people in Australia.

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