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Thursday, 1 September 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - As this is one of the industries that took root in the New South Wales State in the old Free Trade days it is only natural that I should endeavour to assist it. Industries established under Free Trade conditions are not like hothouse plants. On the contrary, they become sturdy and prosperous as did this industry, and naturally I was delighted to learn it was competing on American soil with American pianos. I have a copy of the advertisement to which Senator Guthrie referred.

Senator Duncan - It was only a bogus competition to enable the Australian industry to keep in touch with the most up-to-date methods of manufacture on the other side of the world.

Senator GARDINER - I am disappointed at this information, because, as I have said, I was delighted to think that the industry, established under Free Trade conditions, had flourished to such an extent. Indeed, I was expecting to hear Senator Duncan and Senator Prat-: ten tell the Committee that it had grown to enormous proportions, and by using Australian woods - there was room, surely, to say something about our woods - the manufacturers were able to turn out the most attractive instruments in the world. But evidently this is not the position at all, for Senator Duncan now tells us that the competition with American manufacturers is bogus. Now, what is likely to happen in Australia if these duties are imposed? If prices for Australian pianos are raised to such an extent as to restrict their sale to those whose incomes are above a certain amount, the industry must languish. The more reasonable the price, the better it will be foi the industry. I may regard myself as a shocking example of one whose musical education has been neglected. Whenever a band strikes up " God Save the King," because of lack of musical education I am in fear and trembling lest I should not get my hat off before some one gives me an unpleasant reminder. If we could get pianos into every home in this country, we would insure for the rising generation a home life that certainly was not mine, and cultivate in the young the love of music that may be in them. But Senator Duncan and Senator Pratten would reserve pianos for the classes. The masses, according to their reasoning, have no .right to music. Did God reserve musical talent for the classes ? Certainly not, and I have no time for those who would restrict the opportunities of the people in regard to the enjoyment of music of any kind. I want the best of musical instruments to be made available to the people at the cheapest possible price. I should like pianos to be free of duty. I should like to see the Australian firms competing with the rest of the world.

Senator Lynch - Do you mean to say that the industry under Free Trade conditions in New South Wales was a profitable investment?

Senator GARDINER - I know that the first nine or ten years in the life of an industry is always the worst, and that, in its early days, this industry was under Free Trade conditions.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Do you know that those engaged in it lost capital?

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - They were able to sell pianos in London when the duty was 25 per cent. They supplied one large hi tei in the Strand with instruments. I saw a full-page advertisement in the Sydney Bulletin acclaiming this fact.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - One piano!

Senator GARDINER - I am afraid that the more I hear of the methods of this firm, the less I shall respect them. I should like to buttress the argument used by Senator Guthrie as to the natural protection which the Australian manufac-

Senator Duncan - Whose figures are you quoting?

Senator GARDINER - I am quoting trade figures supplied to me. Unlike Senator Duncan, I do ,not seek to wrap up trade figures and represent them to be my own. I quote figures which I challenge the - honorable senator to refute. They have been in circulation for weeks, and Senator Duncan has - had possession of them. I am asking for lower duties. I want pianos to be within the reach of everybody, and not to be the exclusive right of the richer people in our community, simply in order that one or two local firms may prosper. I suppose it was the association of O. C. Beale and Wertheims in the business that prompted me to ask were they not Germans.

Senator Wilson - Don't be too severe.

Senator GARDINER - If they have certain rates for factory costs, and another rate in their warehouses, and do not show them in their balance-sheet, their methods are absolutely dishonest.

Senator Wilson - Every other factory does that.

Senator GARDINER - I know that private enterprise methods are as rotten as they can be, and that is why I have been up against them all my lifetime. I shall leave the matter now. I simply want to make pianos as cheap as possible. I want them to be widely distributed in order that the people I represent may be able to purchase them.

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