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Tuesday, 19 December 1905

Senator Lt Col GOULD (New South Wales) - I am very sorry there has been a misunderstanding. I am prepared to take the statement of the Minister as showing what he intended, or what his recollection of the events is. My own clear impression is that the understanding was that, if we on this side would consent to the term being limited, then honorable senators opposite would forego the idea of proposing, a diminishing rate. But for that understanding there would have been no object in honorable senators on this side agreeing to an amendment; we should simply have been .giving the position away. It seems, however, that there has been a misunderstanding. We know how legislation has been going on in another place recently - we know how easy it is, at this hour of the session, with a few simple words, which, perhaps, no one hears, to slip a Bill through.

Senator Playford - This is a very serious reflection on another place.

Senator Millen - That was exactly the position when this Bill went through.

Senator Lt Col NEILD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Col. GOULD. - Be that as it may, we are made to appear as if we only considered the sugar-growers, and not the consumers, and as though we were not concerned about the revenue. The reason for an Excise duty is to obtain revenue, even under the proposal made by the Government. Although a certain amount of protection would be given incidentally, it was expected that revenue would be derived; but, as matters are now, the revenue has been thrown away.

Senator Stewart - Surely the honorable senator does not wish to derive revenue from sugar?

Senator Lt Col GOULD - We want revenue from any source we can get it.

Senator Stewart - Tax the land.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- The honorable senator has a "bee in his bonnet " in regard to land taxation. We shall be making a serious mistake if we throw revenue away in the manner proposed ; and the measure is certainly an indication that there will be no more Excise duty collected after the expiration of six years. The position taken up by the Government is unreasonable, and it entirely defeats the intention of the Senate when the alteration was made in the Bill the other day. ' As I have already said, many honorable senators have .gone away under the impression that this matter was settled.

Senator Playford - They are all paired.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - I am afraid they are not. At any .rate, it appears to me. to be a case in which honorable senators opposite are taking advantage of. the absence of honorable senators. I know that, politically, of course, honorable senators are quite justified in doing so.

Senator Givens - No advantage can be gained in' that way, because every absent senator is" paired.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - Whatever honorable, senators may say, it is not reasonable to make the proposed change at the present time, and I shall certainly record my vote against the Government.

Senator PULSFORD(New South Wales). - Senator Stewart has expressed the opinion that we ought not to derive revenue from sugar. Does the honorable senator wish the people of Australia to continue paying £6 per ton, or more than £1,000,000 every year, without the revenue benefiting to the extent of a farthing? Surely that cannot be the honorable senator's idea? He does not recognise that we are not dealing with the Customs duty, but with the Excise duty, and the big Customs duty which the people have to pay on every ounce of sugar they consume is to stand. The honorable senator is supporting a policy under which the Government will take a larger portion of what the people pay, and hand it over for the benefit of certain people concerned in the industry. Though the people will contribute a gigantic sum in taxation, the revenues of the various States will be depleted. That is the position under the proposal now made, and it is a very grave position indeed. We should have some explanation on the subject from the Minister in charge of the Bill.

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