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Tuesday, 30 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) .- The Minister (Senator Pearce) has quoted the opinions of experts in connexion with this item, and whilst I do not wish to question the value of expert evidence, I suppose I must include myself amongst the ignorant people of the community who are prepared, in this matter, to put the practical experience of the fruitgrowers of Australia against the opinion of the best experts who can be secured. I venture to say that the fruit-growers are the best judges in this matter. There is very great danger in spraying if the best possible article is not used. A man may loose the whole value of his crop, and his orchard may be in a worse condition next year if he uses an ineffective spray. The orchardists have put their case very well, and I have been surprised that Senator Duncan did not propose a return to the conditions under which the arsenate of lead industry was established in Australia. The debate on the schedule has continued now for some time, and I am getting a little tired of it, but I occasionally derive some little encouragement from the remarks of honorable senators. When I find Senator Earle proposing a reduction of the duties in a matter in which the people of his own State are interested, it is not strange that I should make a note of the fact. It has been encouragement to me to find this hard-shell Protectionist from Tasmania, who I thought was unrelenting in his determination to impose high duties, on the ground that protective duties make things cheaper-

Senator Earle - Here we have an evidence of it.

Senator GARDINER - If so, why does not the honorable senator move for higher instead of for lower duties? The evidence we have is that Senator Earle is going to make things dearer in Tasmania by lowering these duties. These things are very encouraging to me, because they make it clear that when a proposal is made to impose duties which will have to be paid by the people whom they represent, the Protectionists in the Committee are all Free Traders.

Senator Wilson - That is human nature.

Senator GARDINER - It is certainly Protectionist human nature.

Senator de Largie - We do notbegrudge the poor old Free Traders a little crumb of comfort now and again.

Senator GARDINER - The Free Trader can claim that Free Trade costs the community nothing, whilst we know that Protection costs this community in duties alone £32,000,000 a year. I venture to say that it costs the community another £32,000,000 a year in the shape of increased prices. So that our people have to pay £64,000,000 a year as a result of this glorious policy of Protection. When I find such an enthusiastic, wellinformed, and earnest Protectionist as Senator Earle saying that he will vote for lower duties on this item on the ground that from the experience of fruit-growers in Tasmania as to the value of the local arsenate of lead for spraying purposes, and their desire to secure the imported article as cheaply as possible, I say that I have voted for the reduction of all the duties in this Tariff for a similar reason. The only difference between Senator Earle and myself is that I am treating the whole of the people of Australia as my constituents, whilst he treats only the people of Tasmania in that way.

Senator Earle - That is not fair.

Senator GARDINER - It may not appear to be fair to the honorable senator but that is how it appears to me.

Senator Earle - My vote on the previous item gives that statement a contradiction, because there are no grapes grown in Tasmania.

Senator GARDINER - I remind the honorable senator that he voted for the higher duty on the last item, and he is proposing to vote for a lower duty on the item now under consideration. I have no desire to be unfair to the honorable senator, but I note the fact that when a

Tasmanian industry desires to be able to use this commodity at a cheap rate he joins Senator Duncan in proposing a reduction of the duties. He does so because the people whom he represents will thus obtain the article they require more cheaply. His action in the circumstances is legitimate and in accord with what he was sent here to do, but I have been supporting a reduction of duty on every item in the interests of the whole of Australia, whilst the honorable senator pleads only for Tasmania.

Senator Senior - All the fruit-growers do not live in Tasmania. There are a few in New South Wales.

Senator GARDINER - That is so, but I have been dealingwith Senator Earle's constituents. I quite realize that, so far as the future of the orchard industry is concerned, New South Wales is the home of the apple-grower, and will quite overshadow Tasmania in this regard. One reason is that the best of the Tasmanians are leaving that State and going to New South Wales and to Queensland.

Senator Pearce - As the honorable senator has the numbers, why prolong the discussion ?

Senator GARDINER - If the Minister is prepared to let the request go to a division, I shall not delay the matter further.

Request agreed to.

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