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Thursday, 28 July 1921

Senator ELLIOTT (Victoria) . - I should like the Minister to give some attention to sub-item d of item 10, covering ethyl chloride. I have received a circular pointing out that the duty under the old Tariff on kelene, which is the purest known form of ethyl chloride, was 5 per cent, ad valorem, and under this Tariff is 2s. per fluid ounce. This represents an increase, varying on the different standard sizes imported, of from 1,666 per cent, to 9,300 per cent. That seems to me to be a most extraordinary increase. The circular says -

Taking a concrete example, the size most largely used by the hospitals and charitable institutions is the 100 cc. tube. Our principals, the Societe Chimique desUsines du Rhone, of Paris, recognised this, and in order that the hospitals should get the kelene at the lowest possible price, always invoiced the 100 cc. at a much lower price proportionately than the other sizes, enabling us to supply hospitals under the old Tariff at 2s.8d. per tube before the war to 3s. per tube during the war. Under this new Tariff we could not now supply hospitals at less than11s. per tube. . . . Since kelene, which is the purest known form of ethyl chloride, was introduced into Australia some seven years ago, it has been used in hundreds of thousands of cases without a single accident, this immunity being due to its absolute, purity. By all who use it the increase in duty is considered to- be quite unwarranted, and, in any case, the enormous duty charged on a special drug used to alleviate suffering, and the use of which should be made as cheap as possible, seems altogether wrong.

To sum up, the duty on 100 cc. kelene under the old Tariff was 5 per cent, ad valorem, or 1d. per tube. Under the new Tariff, the duty is 2s. per fluid ounce, or 7s. 9d. per tube, an increase in duty of 9,300 per cent.

If the statements appearing in this circular are correct, we would appear to be running Protection mad in connexion with this particular item. I am astrong advocate of Protection, but it does seem to me that the local manufacturer of kelene should be able to get along with a much smaller increase of duty than that which I have quoted.

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