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Monday, 18 December 1911

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - One of the effects of the alteration is, as Senator Needham has correctly stated, to bring generators for direct coupling to steam-engines, previously admitted at 5 per cent. and free, under duties of 20 and12½ per cent. There is another effect brought about by the alteration, and that is to withdraw the preference which was previously given to these articles when imported from Great Britain. By striking out sub-item g we not only bring these generators under a much higher duty, but we remove the preference to British-made articles. When the Minister stated that the change is merely to strike out the item, he stated the position in a very bald fashion indeed. I have a distinct recollection of the reasons why a previous Parliament placed these generators practically on the free list. The first reason was that they were not made in Australia, and the second was that they were very necessary, for very many of our developmental purposes, particularly mining. The latter reason prevailed with the Parliament which was distinctly Protectionist, to place the articles on the free list. It also sought to give a preference to imports from Great Britain, and to do that it imposed a duty of 5 per cent, in the general Tariff, allowing free importation of the articles from Great Britain. By this amendment we destroy that preference, and subject articles which cannot be made in Australia to duties of 20 and 12½ per cent. I should like to hear a further explanation from the Minister.

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