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Thursday, 4 May 1961

Mr DALY (Grayndler) .- My remarks relate to the rate of duty. Proposed new section 24a reads -

The Excise duty on coal shall be paid at the rate in force when the coal is entered for home consumption or, if the coal is removed from the coal mine in pursuance of sub-section (2.) of the last preceding section before entry for home consumption, at the rate in force when the coal is so removed.

I have been impressed by the comments of the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) who, coming from a great industrial city, has a sound knowledge of the coal industry. He has pointed out that the amount of excise on coal for export is to be abolished whereas the excise on coal for the home market is to be reduced from 5d. to 4d. per ton.

In .my own constituency there are huge manufacturing interests, such as brickyards where many persons are producing goods and materials for the home market. Those industries will receive the benefit of a reduction of only / J. per ton in the price of coal whereas a reduction of 5d. will be allowed in reject of coal sold overseas. It appears to me to be out of all proportion that people producing goods for the home front will receive a reduction of only Id.

Mr Barnes - Do you not want coal exports?

Mr DALY - We certainly want exports, but I am one of those who believe that charity begins at home. I am also one of those people who do not believe that we should sell Australian butter in England at 2s. per lb. while having to pay 4s. 6d. per lb. for it in Australia. A similar position exists in regard to coal. I desire to quote the remarks of another excellent member of this Parliament who represents a coalmining constituency. I refer to the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) who has a great knowledge of the mining industry. In fact he is an exminer. During the course of a very fine speech this evening he made reference to proposed new section 24a. I quote his remarks about this excise duty on coal, as follows: -

What will this bill do for the home market? It will reduce the excise duty on coal by Id. a ton, that is a reduction of 20 per cent. It will reduce the excise duty on coal exported to our competitors by 100 per cent. Therefore, if an advantage is to be gained by any body, it will obviously be gained by the people who obtain our coal on overseas markets. The coal industry in New South Wales has suffered.

Mr Anderson - 1 rise to order. Is the honorable gentleman in order in quoting from the " Hansard " script of the speech of the honorable member for Macquarie? I ask also whether he is in order in engaging in tedious repetition.

The CHAIRMAN - The Chair is not in a position to rule on the second point of order taken by the honorable member for Hume. In regard to the first point of order, I rule that the honorable member for Grayndler is in order.

Mr DALY - I do not wish to transgress in any way, Mr. Chairman. I was only quoting from some notes that the honorable member for Macquarie gave me on proposed new section 24a. I come back to the contention of the honorable member for Newcastle and other honorable members from coal-mining areas that the reduction of1d. a ton on coal supplied to the home market is not enough. I had the opportunity on one occasion to represent this Parliament, and the Labour Party, at a coalmining conference at Geneva. I know the conditions under which miners work and I know of the need to keep up production. I know, too, that we must have export markets for coal, but I claim at the same time that the people on the home front are entitled to consideration. Those who are producing coal on the home front and using it for the expansion of industry are entitled to just as much consideration as people who use our coal abroad, yet the Government is giving preference to Japanese buyers over Australian manufacturers and Australian producers. That is why it is important that I should stress the tremendous advantage that people abroad who buy our coal will have over those who buy on the home market.

It is no good saying that we can disregard this matter. The coal industry is suffering. The honorable member for Newcastle favours the introduction of a 35-hour week. The Labour Party in New South Wales follows a similar line. There has been increased production and increased work. Fewer men are employed in the industry, but output has risen. Mechanization-

The CHAIRMAN - Order! The honorable member is again getting wide of the clause before the committee. Matters such as hours, increased production and mechanization are not referred to in this clause.

Mr DALY - I bow to your ruling, Mr. Chairman. The bill, generally, deals with the question of excise, and this particular clause appeared to me to have particular reference to the matter 1 was discussing. I have no wish to delay the proceedings of the committee. I consider that the question of this excise duty is an important one. It affects not only the coal-mining constituencies but also people in my own electorate. I mentioned previously that in my electorate there are huge brickworks where bricks are manufactured for use in the erection of homes and factories. These industries will receive the benefit of a reduction of1d. per ton in excise whereas Japanese buyers of our coal will receive a reduction of 5d. a ton. People in Marrickville, St. Peters and other industrial areas in the heart of Sydney or in other parts of the Commonwealth will receive only a reduction of1d. per ton.

If the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) knows the answers to these questions, he should inform the committee. It is significant that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) has not bothered to come into the chamber during the committee stage of this bill in order to explain why a reduction of only1d. per ton is given to Australian industries whilst 5d. per ton is allowed to buyers abroad. I know that the Minister for Shipping and Transport probably has an excellent knowledge of cycling, but such a matter is far removed from coal and excise. I should like to have the Minister's explanation of proposed new section 24a. Why has the Government not been able to grant to Australian manufacturers the same reduction of excise as it grants to foreign users of our coal? Regardless of the attitude of the Government I see no reason why we should give people abroad greater concessions than we are prepared to give to those on the home front. Although there may be a need to increase our export markets we want the home producers to have a fair go. If this were a question of margarine versus butter, Country Party members would be on their feet.

The CHAIRMAN - Order! The honorable member is again getting away from the clause which the committee is discussing.

Motion (by Mr. Opperman) put -

That the question be now put.

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