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Tuesday, 19 December 1905

Senator DOBSON (Tasmania) - The Committee is asked to undo everything we fought for during the whole of yesterday. Under this proposal the revenue of the States will be depleted, and this industry - which is certainly deserving of some consideration - will be bolstered up to an extent which some of the States cannot afford. The sugar planters of Queensland must admit that the Federal Parliament has treated them most generously, whilst their own State Legislature has not done enough for them. Ministers should hesitate before they ask the State to deplete its revenue any further. Instead of a revenue of £4 per ton from sugar, during the last two years, it will get only £2 13s. 4d., and £1 6s. 8d. respectively per ton. The Minister forgets that there were two reasons for the adoption of the sliding scale in connexion with the bounty. The first was to let the planters know that at the end of a certain period it would cease.

Senator Playford - That has been settled.

Senator DOBSON - There was another reason, and that was to secure a little more revenue for the States.

Senator Keating - That was never urged.

Senator Playford - The honorable senator himself urged that under the sliding scale proposed we should get exactly the same revenue as under the proposal made in the Bill.

Senator DOBSON - Senator Playford must have been deaf when I was speaking, if he did not hear the one great burden of my song. I pointed out that Tasmania would sustain a great loss. I believe that in some years she will lose £50,000 a year as a result of the policy adopted in connexion with the sugar industry. Will the Minister say that that is either fair or just? Queensland herself is to do nothing for this industry, though it is one of the chief industries of that State.

Senator Playford - She has to pay her share just as the other States do.

Senator DOBSON - We were given to understand that sugar would be an enormous revenue-producing item, and, as a matter of fairness, the industry could bear some kind of Excise. If honorable senators say that there is to be no Excise duty on sugar, let us reduce the Customs protection to £3 per ton. The questions of the bounty, the Excise duty, and the Customs duty must be considered together. Senator Playford, against his will, consented to notify the planters by adopting a sliding scale for the payment of the bounty, that it would absolutely cease in 191 3, and is intimating as plainly as possible that at the end of that time there is to be no more Excise duty charged. I believe that at 'the end of the term provided for, Ministers will be ashamed of what they have done. There will be a reaction throughout the States. This will become a burning question unless we settle it now, and I think that we should settle it now. Will Senator Playford reduce the bonus of £4 per ton to , £3 "per ton, or make any fair suggestion ?

Senator Playford - The Sugar Bounty Bill is not before us now.

Senator DOBSON - That is so; but we can make this three-fourths for the last two years, and the Minister should consent to do so. We must consider the revenue of the States. If Senator Playford will accept that suggestion. I am sure that the leaderofourpartywillnotobject to it. Some day there will be even numbers on both sidesin the Senate, or there may be a majority of one or two against the Government, and we shall then find out whether Ministers are justified in remaining dumb and consenting to do everything that another place desires. I do not recollect a single occasion on which Ministers in the Senate have not, where a difference of opinion has arisen, remained dumb, and consented to do exactly what they were told by another place.

Senator Playford - I wish the honorable senator had remained dumb.

Senator DOBSON - I am not going to be dumb on a matter which so seriously affects my State. Surely ' Ministers will be prepared to accept some kind df compromise. I shall not vote for the modification which has been submitted to us.

Senator Playford - Then vote against it.

Senator DOBSON - I wish to get better terms if I can. I think the compromise I have suggested is a fair one. Senator Stewart talks of a land tax, but he might as well talk of the man in the moon. I should like to know what Government would attempt to tax the land of the States. The Watson Government would not dare to <3o so.

Senator Millen - -We never heard of a land tax when the Watson Government was in power.

Senator Pearce - Put them into power again and lel honorable senators see whether they will hear o'f a land tax.

Senator DOBSON - The sweets of office might put a little pluck into them for a time, but they would have to give way to public criticism.

Senator Playford - Let us have a vote.

Senator DOBSON - I will consent to be dumb for the rest of the session if Senator Playford will agree to the compromise I have suggested. 'It is exceedingly unfair that two important Bills of this kind should be .rushed through in this way when half the members of the Senate are away. This Bil i might just as well stand over until next year, seeing that the planters know that the bonus is assured to them until 1913. I move-

That the House of Representatives be requested to amend its modification of the Senate's request by leaving out the words " respectively twothirds and one-third," with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word " three-fourths."

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