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Thursday, 19 August 1920


Mr TUDOR (Yarra) .- I wish to put before the House a phase of the question which has been brought under my notice by certain manufacturers. They complain that if they purchase silk in France for the manufacture of ties they have to pay an excess rate of duty owing to adverse exchange; but when the same silk is sent to England the British manufacturers are able to export the finished tie at a price practically as low as the Australian manufacturer is paying for the silk.


Mr Bruce - The British importer could export the silk before it was made up.


Mr TUDOR - Yes; provided the silk had been imported into England. I know the difficulties which confront the Customs Department, and I would be loath to do anything that would place the Department in a false position. But we must act fairly. These manufacturers recently sent the following cable to London: -

We are urgently in need of 1471, one thousand yards. DoesGreat Britain impose tax or any impost whatever on any French, Italian silk entering England? Reply immediately.

The reply was -

Referring to your cable of the 3rd instant, silk enters England free.

I have another letter from a firm interested in the importation of motor cars, in regardto the Customs method of assessing foreign invoices in the case of a car costing £300 in each of three countries - England, America, and Italy.


Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - That is its sterling value. The equivalent of £300 in Italy is £804.


Mr TUDOR - I have all that information here. We are losing revenue through giving America the advantage of estimating the exchange at 3.85 dollars to the £1. I am reminded, in passing, that the French manufacturer buys Australian wool, and pays for it, not at the rate of 25 francs to the £1, but at' 50 francs to the £1. When the manufactured article is returned to Australia, however, and the value is reconverted at current rates of exchange, it has to pay an extra heavy duty. Reverting to motor cars, if a machine worth £300 sterling were imported from England, and the duty were assessed at 10 per cent. on the value in the country of origin, the duty would be £33; on the car from America the duty,at 20 per cent., would be £66 ; and on the car from Italy, at 20 per cent., £66. But assessed at the conversion rate the duty payable on the English car is £33; on the American car, £52 5s. 8d.; and on the Italian car, £204 0s.10d. America gets an advantage of £13 14s. 4d., or 21 per cent., whilst Italy is disadvantaged to the extent of £138 0s. 10d., or 209 per cent.


Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - The whole trouble is that the honorable member is dealing with three entirely different cars. If exchange were normal, those cars would be sold at three different prices.


Mr TUDOR - I think I may claim to know as much about motor cars as does the Minister. When I was in charge of the Department I had the pleasure of sending one importer to gaol, and I am sorry I was not able to take the same course with others. But I have always found the gentleman who supplied me with this information straightforward.


Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - I am not impugning the accuracy of the statement.; but when the honorable member talks about a £300 car bought in three different countries, one with exchange at par, the other with an adverse exchange, and the third with a favorable exchange, he is endeavouring to make an impossible comparison.


Mr TUDOR -I would not do anything to make an enemy of America. Tie fact that the same ocean washes the shores of Australia and the United States of America compels us to cultivate friendly relationship with the American people. If we were to assess duty on imports from America at an exchange rateof 4.80 dollars to the £1, instead of 3.86 dollars, we would get a lot more revenue. But by the present system we are deprivingGreat Britain of the 10 per cent. preference which Parliament intended to give. I realize that the discussion that has taken place this afternoon will not carry us much further forward. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) was certainly quite justified in raising the question, since it affects our business dealings in regard not only to silks and woollens, but motor cars and many other imports. For instance, monumental masons insist upon using Carrara marble from Italy. It is a clear, white marble, the like of which is practically unobtainable elsewhere; and if it were first shipped to England and brought here as coming from England, the English agents would reap an advantage which ought to go to the persons working it up in this country. There are many phases of this question which have not been raised, but we have to take care that we do not inflict an injustice-


Mr Bruce - Does not the honorable member think that adefinite decision, whatever it may be, should be given at once?


Mr TUDOR - I do not think that the pending law-suit will carry us much further forward, since it will merely determine what is the law on the subject, and the law on the subject may not give justiceto the whole of the people concerned.







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