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Wednesday, 13 May 1936

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) . - T presume that it is unnecessary to say that the Opposition would not support Senator Hays's suggestion if the honorable senator were to put it in concrete form. To members of an intelligent Opposition, however, it is interesting to note suggestions that Tasmania, with all its wonderful potentialities, is awaiting only cheaper slashers to improve hundreds of thousands of acres of land. When I visit Tasmania, shortly, I shall accept Senator Payne's invitation to show me round the northwest portion of that State, which, but for the fact that slashers cost from 2s. to 3s. more than they did a few years ago,, could be immediately turned into smiling plains, and made to produce more of those articles for which Tasmania is now justly noted. Does Senator Herbert Hays really visualize the full effect of his suggestion when he emphasizes that, in days gone by, slashers cost only 4s. ? In passing, I mention that, in my younger days, 1 used these tools in the scrubs of Queensland. Therefore, I know something about them. I remember also the rate of wages which I then received, and can readily compare them with the wages paid for similar work to-day. Does Senator Herbert Hays, and do other honorable senators who support his remarks, want to restore all the conditions that prevailed in the days when slashers could be bought for 4s.? Iri those days workers in the scrubs possessed only one pair of dungarees, and on Sundays had to lie on their bunks while these were washed and' dried, so that they could wear them the next morning. Do these honorable senators desire to see a restoration of all the conditions which existed in those days, when low standards of human comfort and low wages prevailed?

Senator Herbert Hays - The honorable senator knows better than that.

Senator COLLINGS - I do not doubt the honorable senator's motives, but I doubt his capacity to realize the implica- tions of many of the proposals which he makes in this chamber. He and honorable senators who support him are tariff slashers who do not understand the implications of their statements when they speak of the wonderful days when slashers could be bought for 4s. ; their remarks suggest that they desire to upset the policy, which has been continued by all good Australians from those days up to the present time, to improve our general standards and uplift the community. For these reasons the Opposition opposes the sinister attempts of such honorable senators to reduce customs duties. Despite the fact that the Government brings forward tariff proposals which are modest enough, some honorable senators propose further reductions. However, Senator Herbert Hays has stated that he is not prepared to move a request; if he did so we would oppose his proposal.

Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.

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