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Wednesday, 23 November 1910

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) (Honorary Minister) . - The statement which has just been made by Senator Millen was made earlier in the evening by other honorable senators. I said then that it was manifestly unfair, not only to the

Minister of Trade and Customs and myself, but also to the firm whose name has been freely mentioned within the precincts of this building to-day. Senator Millen knows perfectly well that there are manufacturing constituencies, not only in Melbourne, but throughout every State of the Commonwealth. Paper mills exist in the State which he represents. Mills have been established there for the manufacture of" certain lines of paper to which it is desired to extend that measure of protection which the Tariff of 1908 was designed to confer. I thought that every honorable senator was present here as an Australian. As an Australian, what does it matter to me whether a proposal is made to extend protection to an industry which is located in another State ? I am not concerned about the manufacturers in my State any more than I am about those in any other State. Senator Millen. - Why pick out this, then ?

Senator McGregor - Because there is a manufacturing stationer in Sydney.

Senator FINDLEY - I have told the honorable senator why, and it is because, from time to time, the departmental officers have found it extremely difficult to carry out the intention of Parliament when it framed the Tariff of 1908. There are no sinister influences at work. It is manifestly unfair for any honorable, senator to make that statement, and to hint that either I or the Minister of Trade and Customs am responsible in a large measure for the introduction of this schedule.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [9.46].- I should like to know why the Minister did not state, when he was introducing the Bill, that it contained a modicum of change of a Protectionist character.

Senator Findley - I did say so.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD. - The honorable senator said it was purely a measure to rectify anomalies.

Senator Findley - I read out the anomalies which were considered unimportant, and also the anomalies which were important, and which, in some cases, meant higher duties. - Senator Lt. -Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - The honorable senator told us that it was a Bill to rectify anomalies, but he also stated that some of the alterations were much more special than others. It was put before the other House in a similar way. What I think honorable senators may fairly complain of is that a particular industry has been selected for special consideration as against other industries. What makes the action of the Government look still more serious is the fact that the Bill has been thrown before us in the last days of the session, with the idea, apparently, that honorable senators, being anxious to get away, as they are, would probably assent to all the proposals without giving them full investigation. If it had been announced that the Government proposed some important changes with regard to duties, honorable senators might have asked, " Where are they?" and when told, they could have examined the items from that stand-point. In any case, it is manifestly unfair that, at the fag-end of the session, debatable matter of this character should be thrown before the House. The Ministry know that there is no more fruitful subject of discussion and difference of opinion than a Tariff Bill. The moment it goes beyond the rectification of anomalies all sorts of reasons are suggested as to why a particular industry is treated specially. The Minister has told us that there is nothing in the suggestion that has emanated from this side; and, of course, we are bound to accept his word. But it is most extraordinary that the Customs officials have found out that they cannot distinguish between ruled and plain paper.

Senator Findley - They can. They have never said anything of the kind.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD. - There are two different qualities of paper, and in order to get over the difficulty of distinguishing between them, they have been bunched together. Why did not the Minister come forward and say, " In all other trades where there are different duties according to the quality of the articles, we intend to. level up the duties, so that there shall be no more anomalies or difficulties in administering the Tariff." Ministers have only themselves to thank for any innuendoes which have been thown out, because they have introduced the measure at the fag-end of the session, when they knew well that honorable senators wished to get away, and, apparently, expected that the items would be allowed to pass without inquiry.

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