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Tuesday, 23 August 1921

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I recognise that it would be impossible for the Minister (Senator Millen) to give information concerning every detail of our importations ; but I take it that the Customs Department at least knows what amount has been collected by way of duty on these implements. I am rather glad that I have-raised this question, because the schedule contains quite a number of items in respect of which there is a duty of 10 per cent, under the general Tariff, while imports from Great Britain are free. If we cannot obtain information now as to the amount collected by the Customs Department in respect of this item, I hope that we shall be able to obtain such particulars in regard to other items of a similar kind with which we shall have to deal later on. I am not a very strong Protectionist; but there may be something in the argument that where the products of a local industry have to compete with foreign imports, it is quite possible that the consumer or user does not pay the full duty - that a portion of the duty is paid by the importer. On the other hand, if there is no local industry, the consumer pays the full amount of the Customs duty. This is a Protectionist not a revenue Tariffist Committee, and I would be glad to know what amount of revenue has been collected in respect of this item. Can the Customs officials give us that information?

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) -No; I am told the imports under this item are bulked with agricultural implements. There is no separate record.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I accept the honorable senator's statement; but does he think that such a system is a businesslike one for the Department to adopt? The statement is a rather staggering one.

Senator Bolton - The amount collected, I presume, is insignificant.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Even if it is only £10, there should be a separate record of it.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Ten pounds would be shown as revenue from agricultural implements.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - But we cannot get information as to how much money is being received from the importation of articles under revenue-producing duties. Honorable senators will see, from the schedule, that there is a large number in this category, and if I am present when they are reached I shall raise the question again and see if we can get the necessary information. I am against the item as a more revenue-producing Tariff.

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