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Wednesday, 29 August 1906

Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) . - It is quite refreshing to observe the enthusiasm which the members of the Opposition have infused into the debate, when we remember that some of the leaders of the free-trade party have been' talking about sinking the' fiscal issue. It shows that, after all their talk, the "dry dog" *is going to be allowed to live for a little while longer. The members of the Opposition have been refurbishing the old arguments for free-trade, which we understood was to be thrown overboard. But the laughable part of the debate is that nearly adi the speakers who have supported Senator Symon's proposal are members of the legal fraternity. I should like to know how much preference they would give to British lawyers who might come here. Why, these lawyers are so very narrow that, even when a member of their own profession crosses the borders of one of the States, they will not allow him to practice in a State in -which he has not been formally "admitted." These are the men who get up and lecture us on the priorciples of preference 1 Why should we give any preference to Great Britain? Is she giving any preference to us? After all, the question is not one of preference in trade, but of preference in dumping. If dumping is an evil, why should it be any less am evil because it is practised by merchants in Great Britain rather than by those of any other country? Senator Dobson tried to make a great deal out of the contention that the merchants of England are very much more virtuous than are those of other countries - that they do not practise the same kind of commercial morality as marks the conduct of Americans, for example. For the life of me, I cannot see the slightest difference. I believe that there isi quite as high ai standard of commercial morality in the United States as in England. It is all a question of profit. I lived long enough in the old country to know that the same unscrupulousness in trade obtains in the United Kingdom as in other parts of the world. It is true that I came from a part of the British Isles where the commercial morality is perhaps a little higher than it is in England ; but even in the place where I had the honour to be born I found that merchants and shopkeepers were prepared to practise commercial trickery, and to palm off on customers articles from which they could derive the greatest amount of profit. We need not be surprised at that. It is the sort of thing that prevails everywhere. I should like to know why I should go out of my way to force principles upon the people of the old country that they have formally repudiated. It is only a few weeks since there was .a general election in Great Britain. What was the result? The issue turned to a considerable extent on the fiscal question. The matter of preference was placed before the electors ; but they did not agree with that principle. Why should we force it upon them when they are not inclined to accept it ? I hope that the amendment will be negatived.

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