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Friday, 18 November 1921

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Repatriation) . - I have nothing to say against the arguments advanced in opposition to my motion, but they surprise me, coming from the honorable senators who venture to put them forward. Throughout this debate there has been a certain line of demarcation between groups of senators. A number of senators, with considerable consistency, have contended for a lower range of duties, and they have claimed to be reasonable and sane Protectionists. Sanity, as they understand it, means putting a very low duty on some items, which may concern certain interests, while they impose high duties on others. But that is not sanity.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - You are evidently in favour of rule-of-thumb Protection.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I favour a fiscal policy which is fairly reasonable and uniform, not a policy which picks out certain industries for favours which are denied to others. That is making the Tariff a means for the distribution of public benefits. Much has been said of the imports coming here, and it is contended that the proposed duties will save soldier settlement. I would point out that the value of the imports of lactose in 1919-20 was only £20. The question is whether a duty of 30 per cent., 35 per cent., and 40 per cent, is a reasonable measure of protection. The low Tariffists say "No," and they want over 100 per cent. Senator Wilson, who has been a consistent low Tariffist, but has been in communication with representatives of this particular industry in his own State, wants, not 100 per cent., but in the neighbourhood of 150 per cent. If there is such a thing as reasonable protection, it is not represented by 150 per cent.

Senator Wilson - I have put the case. The responsibility is on the Committee.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The other Chamber proposed a reasonable duty, and now this Committee is- asked to jump from 30 per cent, to over 100 per cent. I hope the Committee will accept my motion.

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