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Tuesday, 19 December 1911

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) . - I should not have risenbut for a stray remark uttered by Senators McColl in regard to a statement whichI had made to the effect that art was international. I take it that he did not intend to do me an injustice. We cannot place any limitations upon art, whether it takes the form of a picture or of a book. While I sympathize with the remarks of Senator Gould, I am desirous of supporting the proposed duty. All of us will welcome the importation of works of the great masters into Australia. But these works cannot be brought here for a few pounds.We shall at all times be glad to receive them, because undoubtedly they tend to elevate the tastes of our people. But we must recognise that Australia has but a small market for that class of works of art, although in proportion to her population she compares favor-' ably with any other country from the standpoint of the number of her artists. Unfortunately, for some reason or other, the Australian people, or a large proportion of them, will turn down an Australian work of art for an inferior one, provided the latter has a foreign name rather obscurely printed in the corner. I do not view this proposal from the ordinary stand-point of Protection or Free Trade. But I know that in many schools of the Old Country there are a number of struggling young artists who are not well known. There is no market for their works, which are, therefore, collected and dumped into markets like that of Australia. If we wish to encourage our own artists, it is very unfair to ask them to compete against the collected works of the teeming millions of the Old Country. The best way in which we can encourage them is by giving them a preference, so far as the Australian market is concerned.

Senator St Ledger - A market for art?

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Certainly !

Senator St Ledger - Ridiculous !

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Most of the great artists of the world have had to look for a market in order to get bread to live.

Senator St Ledger - There was never yet an artist who looked for a market.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - As Australians, we do not object to the legitimate competition of established artists. Weare not afraid to admit the superiority of special artists. But I do say that our rising artists should not be subjected to the competition of students of the OldWorld, whose works are dumped into Australia, Unfortunately, if those works haw. a, French or Italian name attached to them, many Australians are only too prong to overlook the work of our own artists. The imposition of the proposed duty will not lessen the cost of these articles-. If any person desires to purchase a work of art, will a tax of 25 per cent, prevent him from doing so? Will he accept an inferior article because it is admitted free? I believe that the method proposed is the best method for encouraging Australian art. I trust that honorable senators will protect our Australian artists against the dumped goods for which there is no market in the Old Country.

Senator St Ledger - - Are not Australian artists dumping their goods here?

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Where does the Australian, artist dump his goods to the injury. of artists in other countries?

Senator St Ledger - In the Melbourne Art Gallery.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Art works are not dumped in the Melbourne gallery, The honorable senator must have stood at the gate, and guessed at what was inside that building. From the stand-point of our population, I do not know where there is a superior institution in the world. We ought to encourage Australian art so as to make this country a self-contained one. Too often it happens that people will pay 1 os. to see a second-rate artist from Europe, who comes here, and has his name printed in big headings on the playbills, while they will refuse to pay 2s. to see a superior Australian artist. I desire to protect our Australian artists against the dumping here of the works of students of the Old World.

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