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Tuesday, 10 November 1959

Mr OSBORNE (Evans) (Minister for Air) . - in reply - In closing this debate, I want to refer very shortly to some of the remarks made by preceding speakers. I am sure that the House has been interested, as I have been, in the three thoughtful speeches we have heard. That by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) draws from his long experience of the administration of bounties and protective duties. That from the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Clay) was drawn from his own experience of industrial relations in the textile industry, and the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) drew on his own particular experience of one of the principal concerns in this industry in his own electorate.

I want to refer particularly to three remarks made by the honorable member for St. George. First, he suggested that the Government had made it clear to Courtaulds (Australia) Limited that it was prepared to pay for the rayon yarn spinning industry to be established in Australia. If the honorable member was speaking figuratively, and if he meant that a general national interest was expressed in the establishment of the industry in Australia and that encouragement was .given to it in a general way, I would have no disagreement with him. But if he meant that any express commitments were undertaken by the Government his statement should be corrected. It is the settled policy of this Government, as I expect it was the policy of its predecessor, that no express assistance should be given to any industry as to the conditions under which it will operate so far as duties or bounties are concerned. It is the invariable policy of this Government that applications for bounty or protective duty must be referred to the Tariff Board. The Government is not obliged to accept the advice of the Tariff Board, although it generally does so. But no undertakings are given in advance to any industry contemplating estabishment in this country.

The honorable member for St. George also complained that, whereas continuous filament acetate yarn is given a bounty and receives tariff protection, the production of viscose yarn is not assisted by bounty, and does not receive the same tariff treatment as continuous filament acetate yarn. That, again, is on the direct and express advice of the Tariff Board. The question has been referred to the Tariff Board. Viscose yarn is manufactured in Australia. The Tariff Board found that it is manufactured profitably and does not need a bounty in the same way as continuous filament acetate yarn did.

Finally, the honorable member for St. George -expressed some fears for the Australian rayon-weaving industry owing to

Japanese competition. I remind him that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) announced recently that this matter had been referred again to the Tariff Board. The measures which the Minister described in the House recently were measures to cover the interim period before the matter could be considered by the Tariff Board and its report, in turn, considered by the Government.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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