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Friday, 29 July 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) . - I am afraid that Senator Guthrie is making rather too much of this matter. Of course, I can understand an honorable senator who sees a possibility of helping the consumer taking up a very strong stand upon any item. My own impression is that if the duty upon sheep be abolished the consumer will not be assisted one iota. Striking an average, that duty does not represent more than a farthing per lb. According to Senator Guthrie's own statement, although stock in Australia to-day are being sold at very low prices, the consumer is still being obliged to pay very high prices for his meat. That statement knocks the honorable senator's argument to pieces.

Here to-day the fat-stock market prices are low, yet one has to pay the butcher a high price for a piece of meat.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Because we have been exploited.

Senator PAYNE - And we shall be exploited in the same way even if we remove this duty.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - This is not a big question, but to a man who is familiar with the position this duty appears to be a stupid one. It is of no use to the producer, and, if anything,isinimical to the interests of the consumer. In the year to which I have already referred many thousands of fat sheep would have been brought from New Zealand but for the duty of 2s.

Senator PAYNE - The duty on sheep must produce some revenue.

Senator Drake-Brockman - - Itproduces very little. In 1914 it yielded only £217, and no revenue has been obtained from it since then.

Senator PAYNE - I am taking up this attitude, not merely in the interests of the producers, but because I think it folly to allow sheep to come in free when we know that by removing the duty we shall not benefit the consumer. The Government require every pound they can get by way of revenue. In respect of many Tariff items huge sacrifices of revenue are being made, and, even if this item yields only £200 a year, I think it should be retained. I am prepared to help the consumer wherever possible, but the removal of this duty would grant him no relief.

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