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Friday, 5 August 1921


Senator LYNCH (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) . - The Government propose an in- crease in the duty on sweetened milk from 2d. to3d. per lb., or a jump up of 50 per : cent. In the case of unsweetened milk the proposal is for an increase in the duty from1¾d. to 3d., or more than 100 per cent.The . stereotyped argument used in support of a Protective 'duty in thisChamber 'and elsewhere is that it is necessary in order to 'create or foster an industry It is, contended further that whenan industryhas been fairly established, Parliament 'may step in and reduce or abolish, the duty. In this case, all these arguments are flung contemptuousliy on one side; or are ignored. During the last- five years under the previously existing duties the imports of these commodities declined almost to the vanishing point, and I am happy to say, the exportshave been on the increase. The only effect, in the circumstances, of increasing the previously existing duties by 50 per cent. and 100 per cent. must be that those consuming these commodities which are now receiving a wholly unnecessary degree of protection, will have to pay more for them.. There is one factory for the production of these articles at Bacchus Marsh; there are, I believe, one or two in Queensland, and. there may be one or two in New South Wales. Because ofthe circumstances surrounding their manuf acture, there are probably less thanhalf-a-dozen factories in Australia engaged in producing . these articles*. Under the duties levied by the old Tariff the- imports of these articles in 1915-16 were valued at £99,000. They dropped to the value of £708 in 1917-18, and to £17,000 in 1920'. The value, of the exports ofmilk preserved and concentrated in 1915-16 was £23,000,, and the value of the exports of this commodity in 1920 reached £1,285,000. Thesefigures supply the clearest evidence that the duties on these articles previously existing were more than sufficient.. We are now asked to impose duties for which there can be no justification. Under the old. duties the manuf acture of preserved milk in this country flourished to the point of extinguishing imports, and I am happy to say that our products have held their own in outside markets. Yet the Government propose an increase of 50 per cent. in one case and of 100 per cent. in another on these articles. I ask the reason. If it is desired that an increased duty should be imposed merely in order to increase the cost of these articles to our own consumers, let that be admitted. Thenecessary consequence of the increase of these duties must be an increase in the cost to local consumers without any corresponding advantage to the industry, which the import and export figures I have given show, does not require a higher duty. I am against the Government proposal.

SenatorPRATTEN (New South Wales) [3.25]. - The only, item in connexion, with which I am disposed to submit a request is that covering malted milk.







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