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Wednesday, 23 November 1910

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) (Honorary Minister) . - There are very strong reasons, in my opinion, why the Committee should not agree to the request moved by Senator Vardon. It is said that leatherboard, Manillaboard, and woodboard are not made in Australia. But we make pulpboard in Australia, and" every kind of board that comes into competition with pulpboard ought to be taxed. It must be remembered that all boards are more or less pulpboard. It has been very difficult for the Department to arrive at a proper definition of different kinds of boards. In regard to millboard, there is no difficulty whatever. As to fibreboard, which the honorable senator has mentioned, alleging that duties of 20 and 15 per cent, would bring almost ruin upon a certain industry, I may point out that it will not be affected by this schedule, because fibreboard will come .in at 5 per cent, and free. But all other boards that come into competition with locally-made pulpboard should be treated in the same category as pulpboard.

Senator Vardon - -Leatherboard and greyboard do not come into competition with pulpboard.

Senator FINDLEY - I have before me an imitation leatherboard made locally. All sorts of so-called leatherboards are imported into Australia. In reality they are no mon: leatherboards than is the local production.

Senator Millen - Can the Department tell when they are not true leatherboards?

Senator FINDLEY - The Department oan tell a true leatherboard, but importers claim that pulpboards are leatherboards or greyboards, so as to get them in at 5 per cent or free.

Senator Millen - The Tariff does not say that imitation leatherboard is to he allowed in as leatherboard.

Senator FINDLEY - The point is that the importers claim that these imitation leatherboards are true leatherboards, and as such they come into serious competition with an Australian industry which is growing, and commencing to manufacture many kinds of boards. The probability is that Senator Vardon has exhibited a first-class sample with the object of making out a good case. But if he hnd produced samples of so-called leatherboards that come through the Customs from time to time, the Committee would have realised that some of them are almost as thin, and no better in quality, than the locally-produced pulpboard which I have in my hand.

Senator McDougall - That is not a leatherboard.

Senator FINDLEY - But importers claim that imitation leatherboards are leatherboards.

Senator Millen - Flow long is it since the Department has taken importers' descriptions as the true ones?

Senator FINDLEY - Tt is a matter ot impossibility for the Department to get from the trade a definition satisfactory both to the officials and to importers.

Senn tor Vardon. - The Department could get a definition from London. .

Senator FINDLEY - We cannot do that, because similar differences exist there regarding the finished article. The Department has been put to great trouble to arrive at a satisfactory solution of the difficulty, but has been unable to do so because of the disposition of some importers, by a side wind, to get at the Customs by importing materials which ought to pay high duties, as materials dutiable nt lower rates. The Australian mills are being seriously interfered with by the importation of these boards at the lower rates of duty. I trust that the Committee will not agree to the request. If it does, it will take away that measure of protection which was intended to be given when the 1908 Tariff was passed. The industry is not securing that protection today, because, as I have explained, boards which are really pulpboards come into Australia at 5 per cent, and free when they really ought to pay 20 and 15 per cent.

Senator Vardon - The honorable senator knows that these leatherboards are not manufactured in Australia.

Senator FINDLEY -- But the board? which I have before me are manufactured in Australia.

Senator Vardon - For the sake of the manufacturers of those boards the Government are prepared to ruin the business of others.

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