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Wednesday, 9 November 1904

Mr LONSDALE (New England) - It is a revelation to me to find that the growers of sugar are so well disposed to the consumers that they pay the bounties out of their own pockets. If they really pay the bounties themselves, I wonder that they ask for a continuation of them. As a matter of fact, they do not _pay them. The persons who pay them are those who pay all the duties - the consumers. The import duty, on sugar gives the local manufacturers an advantage of £6 a ton, which the excise duty reduces to £3 a ton ; but as £2 a ton is returned to the while growers by way of bounty, they are able to take £5 a ton out of the pockets of the consumers.

Mr Fisher - The collection of excise duties is to cease at the same Mme as the payment of the bounty.

Mr LONSDALE - Yes, and the growers will then be better off than they are now, because they will be able to take £6 a ton out of the pockets of the consumers. I wish to show the absurdity of those who, calling 'themselves free-traders, are prepared to sacrifice their fiscal principles because some of their constituents are sugargrowers.

Mr Lee - Can the honorable member show that the public will get cheaper sugar if the bounties are abolished ?

Mr LONSDALE - If the duties were abolished they would get cheaper sugar.

Mr Fisher - Does the honorable member object to the white grower getting an advantage over the black grower?

Mr LONSDALE - I object to the consumer being " got at." We are here to legislate, not for a section of the population, but for the whole community. The discussion of this subject now can, of course, have no practical effect, but I hope that the Minister will not allow any alteration to be made until Parliament has dealt with the matter. I shall have more to say on the subject when it comes up for discussion again. The honorable member for South Sydney has shown how the sugar- duties handicap confectioners, jam-makers, and others for whom sugar is a raw material.

Mr Lee - But their commodities are protected.

Mr LONSDALE - Yes ; . but they would be better off without the protection if they could get their sugar free tff duty.

It is the consumer who pays all the time - the unfortunate working man, who receives perhaps £2 a week, and who cannot come here to lobby or to put his case before honorable members. In agreeing to the duties we legislate for the rich, and crush down the poor man. I believe in giving privileges to no one, but in seeing that all have equal rights. When the subject comes up for discussion again, I shall vote against giving an advantage to any one set of men over the rest of the community.

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