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Wednesday, 31 August 1921


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) . - I protest against any decrease of the duties on strawboard. The strawboardmaking industry has been built up here, and those engaged in it during the war were very reasonable in their charges, The official statistics show that Japan is our principal competitor, and that out of a total importation of 3,000 tons of strawboard for the last nine . months the imports from that country amounted to 2,000 tons. Those engaged in the industry in Japan work seventytwo hours per week for a wage of 12s. '6d., whereas the men employed in the industry in Australia work forty-four hours per week for wages ranging from 85s. to 117s. per week. Prior to the war the brice of Japanese strawboard was £7 7s. per ton, but during the war it was raised to £38 10s. per ton. On the other hand, the Australian manufacturers, who before the war were charging £8 10s. per ton, only increased the price of their product to £20 per ton. Many other reasons could be given in support of the retention of the present duties. Our two principal competitors are cheap-labour countries. I have already referred to the competition from Japan, and I would remind the Committee that we have to fear also imports of strawboard from Germany, where men are working at the present time long hours for a wage which is equal to ls. 3Jd. per day in English money. Another reason why we should encourage this industry is that it uses an. enormous quantity of straw which would otherwise be of no commercial value. I find that one mill alone can use 20,000 tons of straw, 20,000 tons of Australian coal, and 1,000 tons of lime per annum. We accepted the Government proposal to reduce the du tj on newsprint because we recognised the difficulties with which country newspaper proprietors have to contend, and were desirous also of enabling the people of Australia to obtain the news of the world at as reasonable a price as possible; but 1 do not think we would be justified on any ground in reducing the duty on strawboard.







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