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Friday, 15 December 1911

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I desire to say a few words in reply to Senators Millen and Keating. The former took considerable delight-

Senator Millen - I merely expressed my grief at the honorable senator's backsliding.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - There has been no backsliding on my part. I have always been a believer in effective Protection, which will give the command of our Australian market to Australian industries. I admit that there are many commodities manufactured in the Commonwealth upon -which I would impose a prohibitive duty. 1 intend to vote for the Bill which is now under consideration in all cases in which it seeks to increase the measure of Protection which has hitherto been granted to Australian goods. But 1 wish to point out to Senator Keating that we once had a glorious opportunity to improve the old Tariff, and that if it had not 'been for the position which was taken up by the socalled Protectionist Government which was "then in power, and which was too ready to compromise in regard to dozens of amendments submitted by Free Traders, we might have improved it beyond all recognition. Senator Keating was a member of that Government. At that time we had one Free Trader in the Labour party. There were fourteen others in the Parliament, besides three Free Traders in the Government. The result was that on no fewer than thirty occasions we found an m,0 wed l v Protectionist Government voting with the Free Trade section of this Senate, while fourteen or fifteen Labour Protec tionists had the humiliation of being defeated as a result of members of the Protectionist Government joining forces with Senator Millen and his friends.

Senator Millen - Was it .a humiliation to vote with Senator Pearce?

Senator Stewart - What Ls the use of washing dirty linen? This is not a washhouse.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Senator Stewartuses it as a washhouse on a good many occasions. Senator Millen has accused me of using Mr. Joseph Cook as a bogy for the purpose of frightening the Protectionists of Victoria. Now, I have never abused Mr. Cook for his attitude on the Tariff question, because .1 believe that he has always been a consistent Free Trader. But I have many times denounced the whole of the Protectionist members of Victoria who joined that gentleman in a political alliance, and then proclaimed to the electors that they were the real Protectionists, who would frame a decent Tariff for Australia. I express my disappointment that the amendments of the Tariff proposed in this Bill will not give us the Protectionist Tariff required for Australia. Although, as I have previously said, I do not like tinkering with .the Tariff, I hope that very early next session we shall be afforded an opportunity to give a really Protectionist Tariff to Australia. I trust that in framing that Tariff we shall knock out many of the revenue-producing items which were introduced by the socalled Protectionist Governments of the past. I wish to say a word or two about the Tariff board, which has been mentioned on many occasions. I am absolutely opposed to the appointment of an independent board for the consideration of Tariff matters. It seems to me that the appointment of these boards is always an evasion of the duties of Parliament. 1 do believe, however, that our Customs officers should be something more than mere collectors of Customs revenue. I believe thai we have many competent officers in the Trade and Customs Department who should, under the control of the Minister, be gi ven the special duty of investigating and analyzing the effects of every item in the Tariff. I believe that if our Customs officers were charged with that duty, they would be able to supply the detailed information necessary to enable Parliament to properly deal with the Tariff.

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