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Tuesday, 22 November 1910

Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) . - I am afraid that the Minister has embarked upon a dangerous sea, and it would be well for him to seek a harbor of safety before he is shipwrecked. If I thought this proposal would be protective in its incidence, I should support it. When the existing Tariff was before this Chamber, I supported every item which would give protection, and as consistently opposed every merely revenue item.

Senator Millen - With one exception.

Senator NEEDHAM - The honorable senator cannot mention a single exception.

Senator Millen - Mining machinery ; that was all.

Senator NEEDHAM - The honorable senator might have thought so. I have always been anxious to secure the highest protective duties on goods which can be made in Australia, and have opposed every duty which would be merely revenueproducing. I have seen some of the samples of lace exhibited this evening, and I recognise that they cannot be made in Australia.

Senator Findley - There is some lace made here.

Senator NEEDHAM - If the Minister would not be so impatient, I may tell him that I was about to say that I have seen lace made in Australia.

Senator Ready - Of what kind?

Senator NEEDHAM - I have seen superior Irish lace made by girls in Syd- ney, but it was for exhibition purposes. It is quite impossible just now to put in the costly plant necessary to establish lacemaking as a commercial success in Australia. If I thought it would be possible to secure the establishment of factories for the manufacture of this lace, whether 18 inches in width or less or more, I should be prepared to support this proposal. The Committee is called upon at the request of the Government to remove anomalies in the existing Tariff, but if we accept this proposal we shall create a worse anomaly than at present exists in connexion with these items. The majority of the people of Australia are to-day using these insertions, and a proposal to penalize them by increasing the duty upon them by 10 per cent, is one which it is impossible for us to entertain. It might have been wiser for the Government not to have brought down any proposal affecting the Tariff than to have proposed to remove anomalies in this way. My ideas of Protection may not be as Himalayan as those of the Minister in charge of the Bill, but I should advise him to agree either to recommit this item or to delete it altogether.

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