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Wednesday, 23 November 1910

Senator GIVENS (Queensland) . - Senator Millen has suggested that at the back of this effect there is some cause, but I think he did not treat the Committee fairly, inasmuch as he gave us no indication as to what the cause is. There must be some reason why this particular trade is selected for a complete revision of duties, when it is not proposed to revise the Tariff affecting any other industry.

Senator Rae - What does the honorable senator think is the reason?

Senator GIVENS - I am looking for the reason, and I am disposed to think that the reason suggested by Senator Gould in an interjection must be correct. The honorable senator suggested that there must be some very big business firms in the vicinity of Melbourne that have the ear of the Minister, and are able to exert sufficient influence to have this done. In looking through the schedule to this Bill, I find four full pages devoted to a revision of the Tariff affecting the stationery business. I have absolutely no objection to give this industry all the protection it requires, but I do ask why every other industry is not given the same treatment? Is it because this Parliament sits in Melbourne, and Melbourne firms can approach Ministers at any time they please, and get from this Parliament everything they .choose to ask for ? We know that deputations travel all the way from the other States to Melbourne, and are supported frequently by their representatives here, to ask for some remedy for injustices under which they suffer, but get no consideration at all ? If this sort of thing is to continue, we shall in a short time have an overwhelming majority in this Parliament prepared to shift out of Melbourne and hold its sittings in a tent anywhere else, rather than submit to it. People in the State which I represent have been trying to get glaring anomalies rectified. People in other States have been doing the same thing ; but they have always been given the cold shoulder by Ministers, and have been told that there was to be no revision of the Tariff this session. They have been told that the most that could be done would be to rectify anomalies which interfered with the smooth working of the Department, and made it difficult for the departmental officers to decide under which particular item certain goods should be charged duty.

Senator Millen - The rest was to wait until we knew the result of the referendum.

Senator GIVENS - That is so. I do not propose to deal now with the question of whether we should have had a revision of the Tariff this year. I recognise that it would have been imposing perhaps an undue burden on members of this Parliament to add to the strenuous work of this session the work of Tariff revision. I am inclined to think that the . Government have been wise in deciding to postpone a full revision of the Tariff until next year.

Senator Millen - But they have not done so.

Senator GIVENS - They are giving u» a partial revision this year in favour of one or two industries. That is what I object to. I have a list of over thirty glaring anomalies. I mentioned only two or three, because it has been ruled that we are permitted only to discuss the items placed before us by the Government in this Bill. But, by way of comparison, I should like to know why the anomalies affecting only the stationery industry should be rectified from A to Z? Why is this the only industry treated in this way ? Why is not the fruit industry similarly treated? That is an industry in which every State is concerned. I have pointed out again and again that if you put a ton of fruit and a ton of sugar into a copper and boil them for a time, and then -put the contents into tins and call it jam, you will get a fair amount of protection under the Tariff, but if you put the same ton of fruit and the same ton of sugar up in another form as tinned fruit - and a magnificent article of this description is produced in Australia - you will get little or no protection for it. That glaring anomaly has been mentioned time and again, but there is no proposal to rectify it. Perhaps it would not reflect any discredit on Ministers if they told us the reason why they propose to revise the Tariff affecting the stationery industry. It might smooth over some of our difficulties if they did so. If it is because it is a Melbourne industry that it is singled out for preferential treatment, the sooner we get away from such pernicious influences the better.

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