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Wednesday, 13 May 1936

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Postmaster-General) . - Unfortunately, the importations of all these tools have not been separately recorded. Mattockshave been included in the figures for picks from 1933-34 onwards, but importations have been very meagre. Importations of these tools since 1929-30 were valued as follows:- 1929-30, £2.897; 1930-31, £1,932; 1931-32, £567; 1932-33, £1,557; 1933-34, £3,992; and 1934-35, £5,085. Practically the whole of these importations came from the United Kingdom; the only year in which importations from foreign sources exceeded the value of £50 was in 1929, when their value rose to £204. This industry was reviewed by the Tariff Board in 1931 and again in 1934. The large disparity between the Australian price and the landed costs of British tools caused the board in 1931 to recommend that the duties on picks and mallee slashers be lifted. Since 1931, however, local prices have been reduced considerably, as follows : - Picks, 34 per cent.; mattocks, 30 per cent.; hooks, from 9½ per cent. to 21 per cent. ; mallee slashers, 12 per cent. The landed cost of British tools has also fallen appreciably on account of lower f.o.b. costs, the fall in exchange from 30 to 25½ per cent., the reduction of primage duty from 10" per cent. to 5 per. cent.,' and the reduction ofduty from 55 per cent. to 26¼ per cent. Local manufacturers supply approximately 50 per cent. of local requirements of picks and mattocks, but only 15 per cent. of hooks and slashers. The Australian manufacturers owe a fair proportion of their trade to the preference extended to them by government and municipal bodies. Although there is a big difference between the Australian price and the landed duty-free costs of imported tools, the Tariff Board is satisfied that there is room for improved efficiency in the industry. Improvements have been made over the last few years, and further improvement is expected. If the whole of the local market were to be given to the local manufacturer, the duty would need to be excessive, but owing to the fact that the articles are tools of trade for workmen and settlers, who can ill afford to pay increased prices, and that the local production costs are relatively much higher than costs in the United Kingdom, the imposition of high duties would not be justified. The Tariff Board stated that it seriously considered recommending the total removal of the duties on the British tools, but in view of the fact that such a course would cause severe loss to manufacturers who were encouraged to engage in the industry by reason of high duties, it was unwilling so to recommend. The duties proposed are moderate, and approximate those provided in the 1933 tariff. They should be sufficient to give protection to efficient manufacturers, and at the same time should not place an undue burden on the users.

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