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Tuesday, 20 October 1931

Mr HAWKER (Wakefield) .- f also ask the Minister to give some thought to the disparity between the excise duty on cut tobacco and that on cigarettes. I am not at present raising any objection to the difference between the excise and customs duties upon tobacco, nor suggesting that the protection afforded to locally-grown or manufactured tobacco is too high. The disparity between the excise duty on Australian tobacco, in its cut form, and when made up in cigarettes, is so great that it i? practically preventing the Australian manufactured cigarette from getting on to the market at all. The gap between the two duties must be narrowed very considerably if Australian manufactured cigarettes are to win a place for themselves in popular favour. In these hard times the public is taking to rolling its own cigarettes, and is thus getting a cheaper smoke; but it, is at the expense of the revenue, and of the cigarette manufacturing industry. It is also limiting the use of Australian tobacco. If the present disparity continues, there will be no place for locally-manufactured cigarettes on the market. Every one will either smoke cigarettes they roll themselves, or if they are able to afford it, they will smoke cigarettes made from imported tobacco. That, of course, is in the interest, neither of the Australian tobacco-growing industry, nor of the manufacturing industry. The Australian article should be enabled to get into every part of the market at as low a rate as the country can afford. We know that revenue must be raised, but the present duties are decreasing the amount of possible revenue, while also handicapping the Australian industry. 1 am not blaming the Minister for this, because I believe that, in the great rush of preparing the tariff schedule, he must have overlooked this matter. I do noi suppose that he can give an answer offhand, but I suggest that if he is not able to accept an amendment now, he should defer the item. Perhaps, after further consideration, he will find that he can accept an amendment which would have the effect of assisting both the Australian tobacco-growers and the Australian cigarette manufacturers. \Quorwm formed.]

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