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Friday, 29 July 1921

Senator RUSSELL (Victoria) (VicePresident of the Executive Council) . - Theoretically, Protectionists do not favour revenue duties, since they are' inconsistent with the policy of Protection, but we must not forget that our enormous war expenditure renders it urgently necessary that we should obtain as much revenue as possible. A duty amounting to, perhaps, 2s. 6d. per lb. has been imposed on tobacco, so that, to be consistent, honorable senators who sup- . port the removal of this duty on the ground that they desire to benefit the consumer should have asked for the removal of the duty on tobacco. I claim to be a strong Protectionist, and there are in the Tariff at least 100 items which, as a Protectionist, I could not in ordinary circumstances support; but, recognising that revenue must be raised either in this or some other way, I feel bound to accept them. There are in the Tariff many items similar to that now under consideration the duties on which yield very little revenue, but the aggregate return from them is considerable, so that if the whole of those duties were removed we should have to increase taxation in some other direction. I do not claim to be a sheep expert, but I have heard that the majority of the sheep in New Zealand are of the Corriedale type.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - I wish they were. There are not more than 3 per cent. About 2 per cent, are merinoes, and the rest are all British breeds.

Senator RUSSELL - I understand that, sheep that are brought here .from New Zealand for breeding purposes do not do very well, but revert quickly to type.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - That is not so.

Senator RUSSELL - This is not a national question, but I hope we shall not have the same demand made in. respect of other items the revenue from which is relatively small. If every duty that yields only a small amount of revenue were removed the total loss to the Treasury would be very considerable, and we should have to make good that loss by taxation in other directions. All the animals imported into Australia have to undergo a period of quarantine," and that involves the Government in considerable expenditure.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - No quarantine is imposed in respect of sheep from New Zealand.

Senator RUSSELL - Very well. I hope that whatever may be the decision of honorable senators in this case they will not request that every duty on commodities that are not made in Australia shall be removed. I have often voted to put such commodities on the free list, but owing to the urgent need of revenue I must now vote for the imposition of duties on them.

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