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Tuesday, 7 May 1957

Mr MCMAHON - The Central Tobacco Advisory Committee has, within the last two weeks, reported that there will be an increase in the production of Australian tobacco leaf from, I think, 3,100 tons last year to 5,100 tons this year. The honorable gentleman will recognize that that is a pretty substantial improvement, and is another real contribution to the solution of Australia's balance of payments problem. Because of that increase in production, and the fact that there has been a proportional increase of production in Western Australia, consideration has also been given to an increase of the percentages of Australian leaf that must be used by manufacturers if they are to get what is termed a customs drawback. A decision has already been made, and 1 hope that it will be announced by my colleague, the Minister for Customs and Excise, during the next day or so. I can assure the honorable member that, in fixing the percentages, the facts that are taken into consideration are the imports and the production of leaf as compared with consumption, and the policy behind the decision as to percentages is to ensure that an inducement shall be given for the purchase of all usable leaf by Australian cigarette and tobacco manufacturers. The special position of Western Australia is recognized and, therefore, when fixing the percentages, we take into consideration the fact that the last sales of the season take place in Western Australia.

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