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Thursday, 11 June 1970

Mr CHIPP (Hotham) (Minister for Customs and Excise) - The amendment proposed by the Labor Party is unacceptable to the Government. I appreciate and understand the reasons put forward by the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) but 1 cannot agree with them. Perhaps after I have given a brief explanation the honourable member will reconsider his decision to divide the House on this issue. The honourable member perhaps does not realise the effect that the omission of the Thirteenth Schedule would have on much of the man-made fibres concerned. The temporary duties that had previously applied lapsed 3 months after the Tariff Board report was received by my colleague the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen). Those tariffs cannot be reimposed without further reference to the Special Advisory Authority. Of 35 or 36 tariff changes set out in the analysis circulated for the assistance of honourable members, only 12 references would revert to the higher rates of duty proposed under this Bill. To put it another way, two thirds of the changes would be reductions if the Labor Party's amendment were carried. I do not think that would be the intention of the honourable gentleman. lt may be appropriate here to remind the Committee that the Minister for Trade and Industry has answered criticism of the Government's adoption of this Tariff Board's report earlier this week; so it has been answered on the floor of the House. If the textile industry finds itself in considerable economic peril, it could apply to my colleague for a reference to the Special Advisory Authority. Before I resume my seat and before the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) takes up the cudgels, I know he would bc interested to hear from mc a report on action which my own Department has taken concerning this industry, after discussions with the Department of Trade and Industry. The Australian industry meets only about 40% of Australian demand for man-made fibre yarns. The balance, 60%, is imported. In the past it has been imported at non-protective rates usually under by-law. The Board's report suggested discontinuance of the by-law entry. But on representation by the industry as a whole through the Textile Council, by-law entry will be accorded until the end of this year on yarns which were previously dutiable at non-protective rates in their own right or admitted under by-law. This measure, which is of particular interest to weavers, provides a breathing space for the industry to adjust to the circumstances created by the implementation of the Board's report. Before resuming my seat I say to the honourable member for Lalor that he has made his point in his speech. I wonder whether he would consider, before he divides the Committee, the implications of his action in the light of the information which I have given.

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