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Tuesday, 30 August 1921

Senator EARLE (Tasmania) .- This is an occasion on which I can justify my action in agreeing with those honorable senators who are advocating a reduction in duties because the local product is not dependent upon Customs duties for protection. It has been shown that arsenate of lead produced in Australia is selling at considerably less than the imported commodity, and even if that were not the case, I would be strongly tempted to advocate lower duties, because this commodity is used by the orchardists throughout Australia under compulsion. I suppose other Australian fruit-growers are controlled by similar by-laws to those which operate in Tasmania, where they have to spray three times a year whether they like it or not. That being so, they should have a free selection in the material they require. I was very interested to hear the details of the analyses read by the Minister (Senator Pearce), which prove that objection to the local article is based on prejudice, because it is equally effective. It therefore behoves the manufacturers of the Australian product to break down the prejudice which exists in the minds of orchardists when the cheaper article will no doubt be more largely used. This is an instance in which a commodity is produced at a cheaper rate under Protection than it would be supplied under a policy of Free Trade, and therefore the duties should be moderate. I shall support the request submitted by Senator Duncan to reduce the duties on arsenate of lead to 10 per cent., 15 per cent., and 20 per cent., respectively, as that will give the users a. freer selection, and at the same time afford the Australian industry adequate protection.

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