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Friday, 30 October 1931

By-law Admission.

Mr.FORDE (Capricornia - Minister for Trade and Customs) [2.20]. - by leave - On the 20th October, on the motion for adjournment, the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) questioned the accuracy of a statement made by me on the 30th September concerning a certain fish-meal plant for which admission under by-law was applied for and refused. The honorable member said -

The Minister, in reply, read a letter in which it is stated that a machine for manufacturing fish-meal had been ordered by the firm mentioned from a machinery manufacturing concern in Melbourne.

The honorable member then quoted from a letter dated the 1st October, in which it was stated that this statement ascribed to me was inaccurate inasmuch as an order had not been placed. In the statement referred to I was quoting information supplied to the department by the managing director of the concern which applied for by-law admission of the plant.I quoted that gentleman as saying -

Negotiations with Mr. W. J. Stamp ( i.e., the Melbourne manufacturer mentioned) have been so successful that ithas been definitely decided by his company to place an order with Stamp to proceed with the manufacture of a plant for erection at- in New South Wales.

The fact that, for financial or other reasons, the order has not yet been placed does not affect the accuracy of my statement. The honorable member has placed too trusting a confidence in his correspondent. Before taking upon himself to say that my reply was " to some extent misleading," he might at least have taken the trouble to verify what I had said. The facts of the case may be simply recited: A concern was started for the manufacture from fish of fish-meal for stock food. Having received advice of a British plant suitable for the purpose, the concern applied for relief from the customs duty payable on it. The concern was brought into contact with a Melbourne engineering firm which claimed to be able to supply a suitable plant. After a number of interviews with the engineering firm - W. J. Stamp - the managing director of the fish meal concern informed the department that he was satisfied that the Melbourne firm could supply a suitable plant and that it had been definitely decided to place an order with that firm. Acting on the long and well-established conditions in respect of which exemption from duty is granted under the by-law items of the tariff, I could not, in the circumstances, do otherwise than refuse the application. It depends on the evidence whether or not a suitable plant can be supplied by a local manufacturer. The evidence placed before me up to the present indicates that a suitable locally-made plant can be supplied. If later evidence invalidates that previously furnished, the matter will be re-considered. It has been my experience that the honorable member for Gippsland is usually very fair; and I feel sure that he would not knowingly misrepresent me.

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