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Wednesday, 31 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I am not much surprised at Senator Elliott or Senator Wilson, but I am surprised at the attitude of the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) in defending this proposal to allow the importation of inferior leather at a lower rate of duty than leather of better quality, because that is the effect of the ad valorem duties. It is the father of tie " go slow " principle as applied to our manufacturers. They are invited to continue making the inferior articles, because, by means of this Tariff, the Government will prevent good quality imported leather from competing with them. This high quality leather is, I think, produced chiefly in France. The duty per foot should be the same on high-class leather as on the inferior article. Why should we allow a foot of inferior leather to. be imported at a lower rate of duty than that on good quality material, and thus enable the inferior article to compete with the leather produced in Australia ? We want the very beat of everything. We do not want to go out of our way to discourage the importation of firstclass commodities in which the manufacturers of other countries have specialized, because it is only a question of time before our own manufacturers will be specializing, and I have every confidence in their ability to produce an article that will hold its own anywhere. Surely fixed duties of 3d., 4d., and 6d. per square foot are ample protection for the good quality material produced in this country. If not, let the Government raise the duties all round. These duties are a direct encouragement of the " go slow " principle with which supporters of the Government are continually charging trade unionists. The effect of this Tariff will be to place the Australian manufacturer in such a position that he need not exert himself, or employ the most up-to-date methods of production, because the ad valorem duties will discourage competition in the better class article.

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