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Tuesday, 20 October 1931

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Hon R A Crouch (CORANGAMITE, VICTORIA) - The whole item is before the committee, so that the honorable member's remarks are in order.

Mr JONES - If the excise duty were reduced, as desired by the honorable member for Kooyong, the acreage which I have indicated would be decreased. The honorable member drew attention to the difference between the excise duties on cigarettes and on pipe tobacco. I point, out that in the United Kingdom there is a duty of 8s. lOd. on pipe tobacco, and a duty of 13s. 7d. per lb. on cigarettes.

Mr Maxwell - That is a revenue duty.

Mr JONES - But the honorable member for Kooyong; submitted his amendment with a view to increasing the revenue. I will willingly support a reduction in the excise duty on cigarettes made wholly of Australian leaf, but the suggestion made is that the excise on all cigarettes should be reduced, to 3s. 9d. per lb. I would favour any action that would have the effect of placing a cheap, 100 per cent. Australian cigarette on the market.

There is a large over-production of tobacco in the United States of America.

Rhodesia, and Greece, and if the present excise duty were interfered with, the Australian manufacturers would probably import sufficient leaf from those countries to last them for five or ten years. By the time that Australian tobacco-growers had produced sufficient leaf to meet our requirements, the manufacturers would be able to snap their fingers at them. According to information which I have received recently, bright mahogany leaf sells for from 3¼d. to 9½d. per lb. in the United States of America; the average is about 3d. per lb. There is no need to import American leaf, seeing that we can grow in Australia tobacco which should satisfy the most fastidious smoker. An Australian grower of tobacco, who recently retired from business after 60 years' experience, said that, in his opinion, Australia would, before long, become another America as a producer of tobacco. I agree with him; already the industry is thriving in many parts of Australia. I am not greatly concerned with the effect of these duties on the manufacturers of tobacco and cigarettes who, judging by their huge profits from year to year, seem well able to look after themselves, but I am concerned with the effect on our growers and smokers of tobacco. I suggest, therefore, that we should leave well alone, and that the existing duties should not. be altered for the present. [Quorum formed.]

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