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Wednesday, 17 May 1939

Mr MENZIES - by leave-On Tuesday of last week I promised to make a statement to the House in the matter of the establishment of the tinned-plate industry in Australia.

The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has submitted proposals for the manufacture of tinned plate. These proposals have been reviewed by the Government. Successive Commonwealth governments have been anxious to see this great industry established in Australia. To this end, a deferred protective duty was incorporated in the Customs Tariff in 1920. Up to the present, the whole of our requirements have been imported. Australia's dependence on tinned plate is vital, as it is .used for the canning nf many essential foodstuffs, as well as for a large number of other commodities. The project involves a capital expenditure of from £2,500,000 to £3,000,000 in the tinned-plate plant alone, whilst substantial additional outlay will bc required for ancillary services. Direct employment would he given to about 1,000 hands. In addition, an appreciable number of men would he employed indirectly, such as in the mining of iron ore and coal, in the production of the necessary steel, and in transport services. The Government is intensely interested in the proposal to establish this industry in Australia, and has decided to refer the matter immediately to the Tariff Board for public inquiry and report. All interested parties, including the canners of Australian foodstuffs, will therefore be afforded an opportunity to express their views on the proposal. The TariffBoard is being asked to ascertain whether assistance shouldbe given to the production of tinned plate in Australia, and, if so, the form which such assistance should take. In order that this inquiry may be completed as expeditiously as possible, the Government of the United Kingdom has agreed that any evidence which tinnedplate manufacturers of the United Kingdom may desire to submit shouldbe given to the Tariff Board within eight weeks from the date of reference. Under the Ottawa Agreement, the arrangement is that United Kingdom manufacturers should have three months in which to furnish evidence. As the result of this special arrangement, the Commonwealth Government expects to receive the Tariff Board report in about ten weeks' time.

The Government of South Australia is interested in the proposal to establish the tinned-plate industry in Australia, and has formulated a plan for an extensive water reticulation system to provide adequate supplies of water to.Whyalla in the event of the industry being established and that site being chosen. The Commonwealth Government has under consideration a request from the Premier of South Australia for Commonwealth cooperation in this matter.


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