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Wednesday, 10 August 1921

Senator DUNCAN (New South Wales) .- I do not know that I should have risen to speak on this matter again had it not been for the speech delivered by Senator de Largie in reply to my previous remarks. I used arguments which I believed should be advanced in support of the position I was taking up, and as they were addressed to the Committee in a courteous way, I think they at least merited a courteous reply from those who attempted to answer them. I do regret that Senator de Largie, who is associated with the Government to the extent of being a paid officer of it-

Senator de Largie - Why paid officer ?

Senator DUNCAN - Should have seen fit to go out of his way to make, not a reply to my argument, but a personal attack upon myself. I apologize, most humbly, to the honorable senator for the fact that I am a number of years younger than he is, and have not the grey hairs which adorn his lovely countenance. Perhaps later on in life I may have them, and I hope that when I' do I shall be ready to give those younger than myself credit for knowing a little.

Senator de Largie - The honorable senator has yet to learn courtesy.

SenatorDUNCAN. - I may yet have to learn a number of things, but Senator de Largie seems to imagine that he knows everything and that no one can teach him anything. I regret the episode very much. It was bad taste on the part of a supporter of the Government to attack another member of the party of which he is a more or less inefficient Whip. I still contend that it is in the best interests of Australian industry - not only the candle-making industry, but other manufactures as well - to reduce the duty proposed by the Government. . Under a rate of l½d. per lb. the stearine industry has not suffered from the competition of imported paraffine wax; on the contrary, it has grown to be the mighty industry, employing 1,000 persons, which the Minister has described. What, then, is the need for increasing the duty, especially when to do so must crush another industry, and harass and increase the manufacturing costs of several more? These other -industries are surely worthy of consideration. A large amount of capital is invested in them, they give a great deal of employment, and contribute to the prosperity of the Commonwealth. Surely Kitchen and Sons do not require further protection, and Lever

Brothers are well able to look after themselves. The latter firm has built up an enormous business because of the commercial astuteness of its leaders and of the opportunities of which they have taken advantage. It will not allow its Australian business to shrink if we reduce the duty on paraffine wax to the rate originally proposed by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) when he introduced the Tariff schedule. He fixed that rate after meeting representatives of the interests concerned, and carefully considering the facts placed before him; but other interests got to work and induced members in another place to clamour for an increase of the duty, Whereupon the Government weakly consented to make the rate 2d. As it was originally proposed that the rate should be l½d. the attitude of the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) towards the amendment is tantamount to a declaration that his colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs, did not know what he was doing when he fixed the rate at l½d.

Senator Russell - Have not conditions changed since then?

Senator DUNCAN - Had conditions changed materially, the Government would have proposed an increase in the rate; but that did not happen.

Senator Reid - We have already amended the Tariff contrary to the wish of Ministers.

Senator DUNCAN - Yes; and I hope that the honorable senator has sufficient backbone to do so again by voting in this instance for the rate originally proposed. I want him to show that he thinks that the Minister for Trade and Customs fixed that rate because of the opinion formed after a thorough inquiry into the circumstances. I hope that the Committee will agree to the request.

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