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Wednesday, 3 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) .- I move-

That the House of Representatives be requested to make the item (British) free.

That is the first of a series of amendments which I shall move in order to allow goods imported from Great Britain to enter the Commonwealth free of duty. I shall consistently and persistently follow that policy. In view of all the talk we hear about loyalty to Great Britain, and our readiness to spend millions of pounds if needs be to fight for the Old Country, it seems to me absurd to refuse to trade with it; and I shall not allow any occasion to pass without endeavouring to remove the shackles on trade which Australia is trying to impose in respect of British manufactured goods. The conditions of labour and wages in Great Britain have improved very much during the last ten years, and there is no longer that great disparity that formerly existed between the wage paid to the worker in the Old Country . and that paid in Australia. I believe that the conditions will continue to improve.

Senator de Largie - Wages in Great Britain are coming down.

Senator GARDINER - I know that big influences are at work in trying to reduce wages in Great Britain, and we shall be only assisting in that endeavour if we cripple British trade by refusing to do business with our kith and kin. The effort to reduce wages is world-wide, and we shall only be promoting it if we declare that we will make it almost impossible for Britain to send her manufactures to Australia.

Senator Senior - Will not your policy increase the cost of living?

Senator GARDINER - It will mean a reduction in the cost of living, because, if we allow British commodities to be imported free of duty, there will be so much more food and other materials available in this country at cheaper rates. As I intend to be consistent in my attitude throughout this schedule, I shall later move to assist the poultry raiser by reducing the duty on imported fowls' food. We shall be assisting in the reduction of wages in Great Britain if . we refuse to transact business with the British manufacturer or impose such high Protective duties that it will not be profitable for the British manufacturer to send his goods to Australia, or for the Australian importer to purchase them. I believe that the interests of all parts of the British

Empire are linked together ; yet if a body of men had sat round a table for the purpose of devising a policy to injure the financial, industrial, and trading conditions of Britain, so far as theycan be injured by Australia, they could not have devised anything more effective than this Tariff.

Senator Crawford - The honorable senator is proposing to close up every Australian factory.

Senator GARDINER - The Australian industries can stand on their own legs. We have heard the Minister (Senator Russell) tell us how excellent the Australian factory operative is. I am not afraid of any Australian industrial establishment closing down because of a reduction of duties. I am told that the item now under consideration is used in connexion with the production of leather. Will tanneries close because a commodity used in theirprocesses of manufacture can be imported free of duty?

Senator Russell - This commodity is admitted free for tanning purposes, and yet the importations are nil.

Senator GARDINER - That is a return to intelligence on the Government's part. In this instance they are assisting Australian industry by allowing a commodity used in a process of manufacture to be imported free of duty. I wish them to assist all our industries, and British industries also, by placing no obstacle upon trade between the Commonwealth and Great Britain, and that this Parliament shall not place any obstacles in the way of that trade. I therefore intend to move for a reduction of every duty which is proposed under the British preferential Tariff. I have not failed to notice that during the short period that I have been absent from the meetings of the Senate the Government have not made much progress with this Bill.

Request negatived.

Item agreed to.

Item 47 (Egg contents), and item 48 (Egg, not in shell, in liquid form) agreed to.

Item 49 -

Egg yolk, dry, per lb., British,1s. ; intermediate,1s. ; general,1s. 6d.

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