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Thursday, 1 December 1938

Mr WHITE (Balaclava) .- Honorable members no doubt will remember that there was much discussion and newspaper controversy about this industry and the . Tariff Board's inquiry. The Government had referred the industry to the Tariff Board and a report was received. There was speculation as to the result, and certain newspapers which were not shareholders in the new company believed that a duty would fall very heavily on them. As Minister for Trade and Customs, on the 23rd September I made a statement outlining what the Government intended to do and at the same time laid the Tariff Board's report on the table. In that statement it was shown that by a compromise arrangement, a bounty of £1 14s. u ton would be paid when newsprint was £16 6s. a ton. The bounty was not to be collected by means of a duty as was proposed by the Tariff Board. The announcement was welcomed with approbation by both sides of the House. Since then the necessary safeguards and all particulars have been put through Cabinet. I am proud that I had the responsibility for the framing of this bill and the previous bill which has just been passed by honorable members. Therefore, I give this bill a blessing and congratulate the company upon its pertinacity in going forward with its project, because newsprint throughout the world is made from softwood, whereas in Tasmania a bold experiment is being made with hardwood. It looks as if it will be successful, but there is not complete certainty yet. With the Government paying a bounty of £1 14s. a ton on the present price the impost does not fall upon the newspapers which are outside the new company. They will still be able to import newsprint at the same rate. It will only be when the price of the imported product falls below £15 a ton that a duty will be imposed. Then it will start at the rate of 5s. a ton. All of the newspapers outside the company agree that it is fair that, if they can buy at that cheap rate, or at a cheaper rate, they should subscribe when prices are low.

What I am sure is pleasing to Parliament generally is the fact that the industry is to be established in Tasmania. There has been great development of secondary industries in the capital cities of Sydney and Melbourne and in the two States to which they belong. It would be wrong for development to be lopsided. As Minister for Trade and Customs, it was my aim to favour the establishment of industries in the more distant States by a decentralization of industry. If Western Australia could develop a few more secondary industries it would have the applause of every Australian, because Western Australia is capable of holding many millions of settlers more than it does at present. Western Australia can hope to prosper only if it pushes on with the development of secondary industries. Tasmania has harnessed its water power in the hydroelectric scheme, and it is now attracting secondary industries. Its forests will supply the timber for this new industry, which will directly employ 266 men and, indirectly, with feeder industries, will assist in employment in many ways. We can only wish the company success in its enterprise.

In the bill there are safeguards which will ensure that there will be no exorbitant profit. It is not expected that in the first year, or even in the second year, there will be any profit. At any rate it is good that such a huge enterprise can be launched. The project will be reviewed in five years. Bv that time the Government will be able to see whether there is a sufficient supply o'f newsprint and whether the bounty should be continued or replaced by a duty.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Frost) adjourned.

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