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Thursday, 11 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) (2:35 AM) . - As the Government intends to continue for a considerable time yet, and as I wish to. help Ministers in passing the Tariff, I propose to quote from a book which I am reading with a great deal of interest. It shows that the Protectionists of to-day are just where the Protectionists of 100 years ago stood, having made no intellectual advancement. The book to which I refer is the Life of Friedrich List, by Margaret E. Hirst. List was a German, and a highlyeducated man, who was driven out of his native State ; but after his death a monument "was erected to his memory because he had been a Protectionist. The .writer says -

By the modern bureaucrats and official professors of his native land he is remembered as a rebel against their own class, a rash and dangerous champion of free speech, a believer in democratic institutions, and a Tariff reformer whose doctrines would be altogethersubversive of the so-called " scientific " Tariff of modern Germany. If List had had his way there would have been Free Trade from Rotterdam to Memel, and from Memel to Trieste. This great territory he would indeed have surrounded by a temporary Tariff for the purpose of protecting manufactures (but not agriculture) until its " infant " industries wereable to resist the competition of their stronger rivals in England. When the time came, and the industries reached the stage at which they could export and compete successfully in neutral countries, the Protective Tariff would be removed, and the consumers who had been taxed during this period of probation in order that the productive capacity of the nation might be nursed into life and vigour would be relieved of their burdens and allowed to enjoy the blessings, not only of cheap food (of which List would never have deprived them), but of cheap clothing, and boots, and tools, and of all the other conveniences of life. This idea of the Tariff as a nursery, grew upon List during his stay in America. Had he lived another half-century to see the American Tariff on worsteds and woollens raised higher and higher, until the natural cost of warm clothing was doubled for the whole American people, he might have begun to question the working value of his theory. Instead of Tariffs falling as industries grow, colonial, American, and European experience tells us that the reverse is usually the case.

I have pegged away night after night in the hope of inducing senators to discontinue taking money from the pockets of the people to put it into those of the manufacturers without hope of getting cheaper materials from those manufacturers. There should, however, be a quorum to listen to my remarks. [Quorum formed,] I see that Tariff history is not appreciated at this hour of the morning, and therefore I shall not weary the Committee with further quotations, but will allow honorable senators to read the book for themselves. They will find it full of interest. I am reading it because it contains the opinions of persons who think differently from me.

Senator Drake-Brockman - Would you have us believe that you are a broadminded man?

Senator GARDINER - No; I am as narrow as the class to which I belong. I come here to represent a section of the community.

Senator Bolton - And you do it very well.

Senator GARDINER - I thank the honorable senator. The reading of the book to which I have referred convinces me that the growth of Protection during last century was fostered by the antipathy of Germany and the United States of America to Great Britain. The German States were then struggling into unity, and after the War of Independence a large section of the American public was always anti-British. But why should this country show antipathy to Great Britain, and impose a duty of 30 per cent, on goods which Great Britain makes better than any other country? There might have been a reason for American prejudice arising out of the struggle with Great Britain for American independence. There might have been some influence exercised by party spirit in America, since a political party might hope to secure a' powerful political pull by pandering to the prejudice against Great Britain. But one would think that political advantage here would be with the party that would try to do something for both Australia and Great Britain. Senator Payne has moved a request for a reduction in the proposed duty on British imports by 5 per- cent., and I appeal to the Minister (Senator Russell) to consent to that reduction. The difference between a duty of 30 per cent, and a duty of 25 per cent, against British imports is not a matter about which the Minister should be obstinate, and he would place his supporters in a better position before the electors if he consented to the reduction than he will by asking them to take part in a division against it. Senator Payne was right in saying that the Tariff of 1914 was never discussed. It was a Tariff of the Government and not of Parliament, because Parliament shut out the discussion of Tariffs during the period of the war, and the 1914 Tariff went through in one day in order that it might have the sanction of Parliament before it was prorogued. I know that my appeals fall upon deaf ears, because the Minister has made up his mind as to how far he will get with this schedule during the present sitting. I think that he will get as far as he intends, but he would get there much more quickly if he displayed a certain amount of reasonableness in dealing with the different items. How he could have sat unmoved after a speech such as that delivered by Senator Guth'rie I cannot understand. A reasonable man would have said that in view of the facts presented by Senator Guthrie he would be prepared to compromise in the matter and accept a reduction of duty which would be more favorable to imports from Great Britain by 5 per cent, than that proposed in the schedule. There ' would still be a duty' "of 45 per cent, against Germany when her goods again came into the market, and 35 per cent, against Canada or New Zealand.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap - The honorable senator's time has expired.

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