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Wednesday, 13 August 1902

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member does not know how grateful I am.

Mr Kingston - It would be much better if the honorable member would tell us what the Opposition knows.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - We do not know anything, but the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is a perfect walking encylopaedia. He always uses the expression, "We know," as if " We, us, and company " were the embodiment of Victoria. I wish to tell him what the painters of New South Wales say in this connexion. They declare that these brushes should be placed upon the free list. I think ihat we should exempt the painter's tools of trade from duty, just as we have exempted those of almost every other occupation. Why should we single out the painter for exceptional treatment? Surely if it is a good thing to put the tools of trade of the mechanic, the mason, and the carpenter upon the free list, it is equally good to admit the painter's tools of trade free. Why is this distinction made ? Is it more difficult to manufacture painters' brushes than it is to produce other tools of trade ? We have been told by the Treasurer that the action of the Government is prompted by consideration and pity for the blind of Australia.. I have an idea, however, that we can find better occupations for : the blind of the community, and something-' more suited to their unhappy condition, than is the manufacture of brushware.

Mr Crouch - What is it?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If the honorable and learned member -will go to any of the blind institutions- and inquire, he will discover that there are plenty of other occupations in which they engage.

Mr Crouch - They are employed largely in the manufacture of brushware.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If the honorable and learned member will permit me to know one little thing - and that of a negative character - I would say that they are not largely engaged iri the manufacture of painters' brushware. They produce plenty of other articles which it suits them to make very much better. There is absolutely nothing in the statement that the proposed duty is required in the interests of the blind of Australia. But even if such action were of material consequence to that afflicted class I still hold, that the painters should not be singled out for special taxation, even in so good a cause. If we must give consideration to the blind, let the tax be distributed over the whole of the industrial enterprises of the country. I do not know why the Senate allowed this duty to remain even at 20 per cent. I think that their request, to impose that rate upon the tools of trade of the painters should be scouted. The other Chamber ought to have endeavoured to place these articles upon the free list. There is absolutely no reason why the painter should be subjected to special taxation as compared with other artisans, and, for that reason, the least we can do is to agree to the moderate request of the other Chamber.

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