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Wednesday, 31 August 1921

Senator SENIOR (South Australia) . - I intended to refrain from participating in the debate on this item ; but as there has been such a conflict of opinion it appears to be necessary to express one's opinion. I desire to deal with the ques- tion from the point of view which must occur to honorable senators to be the correct one. I am distinctly in favour of giving preference to Great Britain over Canada, America, or any other country. If we accept the proposition of the Government, which is a good one, we shall have to bear in mind that we may jeopardize even the trade we wish to do with Great Britain. If we establish trade with Great Britain we are more likely to get paper made in Australia than in any other way. If, for instance, we were to place Canada on the same basis as Great Britain - I have nothing whatever to say against that Dominion or the desirableness of entering into reciprocal trade arrangements - Canadian manufacturers would not establish the paper-making industry in Australia; if ever newsprint is made in the Commonwealth the work will be undertaken by British manufacturers. It seems, therefore, that we ought to be sure that the preference given to Great Britain is a real preference, and if we impose a duty of £2 per ton the rate might be a popular one, but would it be sufficient to enable Great Britain to retain the trade until we become manufacturers of paper ? I am convinced that before many years manufacturers of "paper will see what our Australian forests are capable of producing in the matter of paper pulp, and I am confident from what I have seen that before long Australian timbers will be utilized for this purpose. I feel that we are compelled to make a striking differentiation between the nations we are willing to trade with and those with whom there is no immediate necessity to encourage trade. Why were the three schedules embodied in the Tariff if it were not intended to differentiate between exporting countries? The proposition that would serve the interests of Great Britain. Australia, and Canada would be free imports from Great Britain, an intermediate duty of £2, and a general rate of £3. I was particularly interested in the letter read by Senator Vardon, who is fully conversant with the paper trade, because he has had practical experience of it. I was surprised to learn that a consignment of Japanese newsprint is on the way to Australia.

Senator Vardon - It is here.

Senator SENIOR - In the face of that we should adhere to a general duty of £3.

I would not be doing justice to Australia, or to the men who are seeking a lower duty, if I did not endeavour to protect them from themselves. We certainly will not be doing our duty to Great Britain if we do not show a decided preference to that country.

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