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Thursday, 10 March 1932

Mr PROWSE (Forrest) .- I take this opportunity of directing the attention of the Government to the fact that, owing to its recent pronouncement in connexion with the tobacco industry, certain tobacco companies in Australia have definitely stated that they no longer intend to purchase Australian-grown leaf. I shall substantiate my assertion. I received a letter this morning from the secretary of the Tobacco Growers Association at Balingup, Western Australia, which reads -

Balingup, 2nd March, 1932.

Mr. J.H. Prowse, M.H.R.

Dear sir, - I am writing you, re reduction of duty on foreign tobacco leaf. I assume that you were in favour of the increased duty when it was imposed, as an article written by yourself appeared in the West Australian and South-West papers on the subject of tobacco-growing, and I believe that article induced a good many people to try their luck, believing that they would get the benefit of the protection imposed by the duty of 5s. 2d. per lb., and I wish to suggest that should it not be possible to have the present duty retained, the Government might be induced to defer the alteration until this year's crop had been harvested and disposed of ; that would be keeping faith with the growers, and we would know just where we stood for the next year's crop. I might mention that in this district last year there were five men employed in growing tobacco, and this year the number is 80, and the increase for next year would be still greater.

This is the important point to which I desire to draw attention -

One of the largest growers here sent a sample of tobacco leaf to Melbourne. I am enclosing the reply that he received, it makes interesting reading just at the present time.

No doubt you have also heard from Manjimup, and I know you will do your best for us in this matter.

Yours faithfully,

E.   P. Blakeney.

The letter referred to is dated the 19th February, and is from Godfrey Phillips (Australia) Proprietary Limited, and reads -

Dear sir, - We wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 10th February, contents of which havebeennoted, also for the sample of tobacco leaf which you forwarded to us under separate cover.

Whilst thanking you for sending us the leaf in question, we would advise that at the present time we are not interested in the purchase of Australian-grown leaf, therefore we are returning same to you by to-day's mail,

Yours faithfuly,

Godfrey Phillips (Australia)proprie- tarylimited.

It has come to my knowledge from an authoritative source that a week before the schedule was tabled, it was stated at Inglewood, Queensland, by a director of a tobacco manufacturing company, that the duty on tobacco leaf was to be reduced to 3s. per lb. The date of the letter from the Godfrey Phillips organization coincides with that statement at Inglewood, which indicates that the precipitate action of the Government has most adversely affected this important industry. This Government has seen fit to interfere with the duties that were introduced by the previous Government, when the present Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) was a member of it. That action has led to the tobacco company refusing to buy the Australian-grown leaf. I have given the Government definite proof that this is so.

Mr Nelson - Was that letter written before the amended tariff schedule was tabled?

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