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Thursday, 22 March 1928

Senator CRAWFORD (Queensland) (Honorary Minister) . - I trust honorable senators will not support Senator Chapman in the reduction which he has suggested. If the honorable senator had moved the request, which he will doubtless move before concluding his speech it would have saved time. The Government approved these increased duties on iron pipes because it was considered that the old rates of 27½ per cent.

British, 35 per cent, intermediate, and 40 per cent, genera] were insufficient to encourage the iron and steel pipe-making industry in Australia.

Senator CHAPMAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) -They have nor, started to manufacture yet.

Senator CRAWFORD - No. This matter was very exhaustively inquired into by the Tariff Board, and by the Minister for Tradeand Customs (Mr. Pratten), and, as a 'result of investigations, it was ascertained that a British company was prepared to establish large works in Australia. They have already proved their bona fides by announcing within the last few days that they intend to establish works at Newcastle. It has been stated during the tariff debate that another very strong combination has been formed to erect works at Port Kembla, and included in theiractivities willbe the manufacture of iron and steel pipes. The latest figures available in regard to importations show that 47,000 tons of pipes were imported during 1926-27, of which quantity 41,000 tons came from Great Britain.

Senator Payne - Will these pipes be made out of our own raw material?

Senator CRAWFORD - Yes, and the demand for an additional 100,000 tons of pig iron annually will substantially assist the iron smelting industry. The increase in output should enable the manufacturers to reduce the prices of other articles they are producing. Now that Hoskins Limited have announced their intention to manufacture this class of pipe, there should be wholesome competition between Stewart and Lloyds and Hoskins Limited, and there should be no danger of pipe users being charged more than a reasonable price. Honorable senators have observed that these are deferred duties which will not come into operation until the Tariff Board has reported that the Australian manufacturers are in a position to produce iron and steel pipes of good quality in reasonable quantities. The Minister for Trade and Customs will see that the manufacturers do not charge exorbitant prices. The increase in prices which may follow cannot be so great as to substantially affect the man on the land. Although we are dealing only with this item, Senator Chapman discussed the effect of the tariff generally upon settlers on the land. I do not know what would be the position of the man .on the land if it were not for the home market which our secondary industries provide.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - What would happen to the secondary industries if there were no settlers on the land?

Senator CRAWFORD - The relationship between our secondary and primary industries is so close that they cannot be separated.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) -If it were not for our primary industries grass would be growing in the city streets.

Senator CRAWFORD - In such clr " cumstances the man on the land would not have a market for a considerable portion of his produce. The discussion should, I think, be confined to the item which has been re-committed. I submit that Senator Chapman has not made out a good case for a reduction in these duties, already agreed to by the Senate.

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