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Friday, 29 July 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- This item is worthy of discussion, inasmuch as on the decision of Parliament will depend to a very great extent the future success of an industry which has been in operation in Australia for a good many years and has made fair strides. Unless we do what is right in fixing the duties on candles^ it is probable that this industry, in which a considerable amount of capital is invested, will be lost to Australia, and those concerned in it will lose the money they have invested.

Senator Drake-Brockman - I understand that something like £11,000,000 is involved.

Senator PAYNE - I do not know the exact amount of the. capital invested in the industry.^ Senator Pratten put the position very clearly, but he took no definite action. I can understand that the reason is that the duty to be imposed on paraffine wax must be taken into consideration when deciding an adequate duty "on candles. Those who 'are- engaged in the manufacture of wax candles in Australia rightly contend that their industry has been almost entirely dependent on their being able to secure paraffine wax, which can only be obtained in large quantities from Rangoon. The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) made a statement to the effect that we are not justified in taking action for the protection of an industry if the basis of it is a raw material produced by black labour. It has borne in mind that the candlemanufacturing industry was first established in Australia when the raw material it required was obtainable only from countries in which black labour is employed. In those countries very little attention has been given in the past to the manufacture of candles. Recently noting the opportunities offering in Australia, people in those countries have had their attention directed to the matter, and it has occurred to them that a very large trade might be done with Australia in candles. I have no doubt that the information given by Senator Pratten- on this matter is absolutely correct. It goes to show that within the last fortnight a contract' has been entered into for the purchase of a very large supply of candles, with the option of quadrupling the first order, to be landed in Australia at a price which would absolutely prevent the Australian product being marketed at a rate which would give a reasonable return for the cost of labour involved in its manufacture.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The price quoted is 74d. per lb. delivered duty paid in Australia.

Senator PAYNE - Yes. The information I have is. in these terms: -

Only this week wo have been offered from Rangoon 16-oz. wax candles, 125 melting point, duty paid, delivered at our store for 7id. net. We have taken advantage of this offer, and have ordered, which has. been accepted, 1,000 cases of these candles at the above price, with the option of buying another 10,000 cases at the same figure.

One cannot discuss this question properly without discussing at the same time the cost of the raw material to the industry here. In the circumstances, I suggest the postponement of this item until after- we( have dealt with the duty on wax. That is a business-like proposition to make. After 'we have, considered on its merits a request for a reduction in the duty on the raw material of this industry we shall he in a position, should that request be agreed to, to decide what would be a reasonable duty to impose on the manufactured article. I hope that the Minister will consent to a postponement of this item.

Senator RUSSELL - I shall have no objection to do so. I should like to make further inquiries into the matter myself.

Senator PAYNE - If the course which I suggest is not adopted, we might increase the duties on candles, and later on might deal with the duty on wax in such a way as to make the action taken in respect of candles absolutely absurd. The two items require to be considered together. "We can discuss the whole industry when dealing with the raw material, and the decision then arrived at should govern to a great extent the course to be followed by the Committee when dealing with the duties on candles. I do not know that anything is to be gained by a lengthy discussion on the candle industry on this item in view of the reasons - I have advanced for its postponement.

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