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Friday, 15 December 1911

Senator McGREGOR (South Australia) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) . - I move -

That this Bill be now read a first time.

This is one of those measures discussion on which always takes place on the first reading. I intend briefly to outline the purport of the Bill, so that honorable senators may consider it between the present time and the hour which will be fixed for the resumption of the debate. It is my intention to ask for a suspension of the sitting when I have concluded what I have to say, in order that the Senate may look into the details of the schedule. It will be remembered that some time ago the Minister of Trade and Customs sent out circulars to all manufacturers in the Commonwealth with a view to ascertain what industries required additional protection, and what anomalies in the Tariff needed to be rectified. We also wished to ascertain whether it would be desirable to decrease some duties in the interests of industries that were dependent for their success on the importation of cheap raw material, A number of manufacturers furnished replies to the Minister's questions. Alarge number took no notice of them. Although it may be argued that because some manufacturers did not furnish information, we need not consider their industries, nevertheless it would be unfair to take up the position that we should not review the Tariff in the interests of those who have taken the trouble to furnish all the information at their disposal, and who have treated the Minister in the fairest possible way, by giving him and his officers opportunities to ascertain the real condition of the industries concerned. Consequently it has been found necessary to introduce this Bill. There are fifty-three items in the schedule that involve increases of duty. Those increases have been proposed largely as the result of the inquiries that have been made, and of the replies that have been received by the Minister. There are nine items which entail decreases of duty. Those decreases have been proposed so as to adjust the relative positions of raw materials and finished articles under the Tariff. There are fifty-one items which are included in the schedule for departmental reasons, to remove anomalies and obviate misinterpretation. Such are the purposes of the Bill. I do not think it necessary to enter into details at the present moment. If any answers are required to questions and criticisms brought forward by honorable senators during the course of debate, I shall endeavour to obtain information from the officers, which I shall furnish in due course. I have much pleasure in moving the first reading of the Bill.

Sitting suspended from 10.53a.m. to2 p.m

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