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Thursday, 11 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - It is very interesting to note that Senator Russell and Senator Guthrie are quite ready to give no protection to the Dear Old Land when material is required for making bags for Harper's starch or Brunton's flour, but they are prepared to do so when it is a question of providing clothing for the man who puts the produce in those bags. They' will not permit the Japanese to send us the material required for the manufacture of that clothing unless they pay a duty of 15 per cent, upon it.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - We do not want our people to be clothed in such rubbish. We want them to be clothed in wool.

Senator GARDINER - Then why permit our starch and flour to be clothed in rubbish from America or Japan? But I would like honorable senators to be consistent. Their desire is not to protect the working man from an inferior article, but to make him pay all the time.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - One way of providing him with cheap flour is to supply the miller with cheap bags.

Senator GARDINER - Who are responsible for the American prohibition ob our wool? When that country wanted our wOol we would not sell it to them.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - That is not the reason for the prohibition. America got supplies of wool to make khaki during the war.

Senator GARDINER - That is not so.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - I know of one lot of 480,000 bales invoiced to America. That country has prohibited our wool because it wants to protect its own breeders of sheep.

Senator GARDINER - The impetus given to the protection of American wool was the fact that when America required our wool it could not get any from us.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - That is not so.

Senator GARDINER - I have already quoted our Statistician's figures in regard to the quantity of wool exported to America during certain years of the war. We entered into an agreement to sell all our wool to Great Britain, and for two years America did not get the supplies it required.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap - Honorable senators must not discuss wool or what was done in the case of America, because such a matter has no application to the question before the Chair.

Senator GARDINER - I hope that you, sir, will be entirely fair. The attitude of America towards our wool has been urged as a reason for not permitting the importation of dungaree material from that country. When I made a re;ference to that subject my statement was contradicted and said to be not true, but immediately I commenced to prove my assertion I found myself ruled out of order. You, sir, seem to think that no one is out of order but myself.

The CHAIRMAN - I did not say that the honorable senator was out of order. I simply said that any prolonged discussion of Australia's treatment of America in connexion with wool had no relation to the question before the Chair.

Senator GARDINER - I wish to correct an impression my previous remarks seemed to have made on Senator Keating. He says that I seemed to treat the Minister with suspicion. As a matter of fact, the Minister in charge of this Bill (Senator Russell) has no connexion with the Customs Department, which is controlled by another Minister, and as I know nothing to the detriment of that Minister in connexion with his administration I could not treat him with suspicion. I was referring to a system which is apt to create suspicion; I had not the slightest intention of saying anything personal in respect to the Minister for Trade and Customs, or any one in his Department. My argument was that any alteration which might bestow an 'advantage on some firms and place others at a disadvantage would be apt to create sus»picton. When I have suspicion against any Minister I' will' say so in straightforward language. 'In regard to -these particular duties, I am pleased that what I have been struggling for all through in the discussion of this schedule is conferred, namely, a real preference to Great Britain, in respect to goods which that country can produce. But, as it is the working man who will be called upon to pay for the cotton piece goods imported, I see no reason why we should not allow these goods to come in free from America. I am not particularly keen about Japan having the trade in these goods, but I venture to say that both Japan and America will need to turn out a better article than the manufacturers of Great Britain can supply to us before Australians will prefer to buy them.

Senator Crawford - Those countries may be able to produce a cheaper article.

Senator GARDINER - If the article is cheaper it will be betters An article to be really cheap must prove that, although the actual price i3 smaller, it will give equal service to that rendered by an article on which the price is higher.

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