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Tuesday, 19 December 1911

Senator BARKER (Victoria) .- Under sub-item a of this item, "marble, unwrought, including rough or scabbled from the pick," is dutiable at 10 per cent. The granite which comes in in slabs is the raw material of the marble masons. A large number of men are engaged in this work, and to bring unwrought marble under a duty of 10 per cent. will be to tax their raw material. The argument which has been advanced is that large supplies of white marble are available in Australia. Against that we have the statement of those who are interested in this matter that no suitable white marble is obtainable in Australia, and that consequently it is in the interests of the workers that it should be placed upon the free list. In my judgment, if we impose a tax upon the raw material we should be taking a step in the wrong direction.

Senator McGregor - What about the Australian quarrymen?

Senator BARKER - They are not interested in this matter at all. As an old Protectionist, I am. quite prepared to impose prohibitive duties upon articles which can be manufactured in Australia, but I see no advantage in levying imposts upon commodities which cannot be produced here. I should like an explanation of why it is proposed to make marble dutiable at 10 per cent., seeing that it has hitherto been admitted free.

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