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Friday, 5 August 1921

Senator RUSSELL (Victoria) (VicePresident of the Executive Council) . - I always understood that the purpose of Protection was to help the establishment of Australian industries, and to extend them as far as possible, for the production of greater wealth in Australia. When we are producing a good children's food in Australia, we should give the industry adequate .protection y. but we give a free choice to mothers as to, the artificial foods they shall use, because they differ as to which is most suitable for their children.

Senator Drake-Brockman - My wife thinks that Horlick's malted milk is the best.

Senator RUSSELL - That may be so ; but the preference for Horlick's malted milk- is largely due to bias against the Australian article. Mr. Percy Wilkinson, Analytical Chemist to the Customs Department, than whom there is no more capable analyst in Australia, has made the following comparative analyses: -

It must be remembered, also, that the imported article is several months old be- f pre it gets into the hands of the public, whereas the Australian-made article goes into the stores from day to day as it is freshly made. That is a consideration of very great importance, because the fresher the food, the better it is for the child. Imported malted milks are toeing sold at higher prices than the Australian article; but they are subject to a duty. If tUc duty is removed, they will be able to compete on a parity with the local industry, and it would be very easy for large foreign manufacturers to crush out ibo small and unprotected Australian maker. When the manufacture of malted milk in Australia was first suggested, the price of Horlick's malted milk was increased, and the extra money thus obtained was used in propaganda to prevent tho establishment of the Australian industry. The Government Analyst's report shows that the local article is just as pure as the imported. Where we can make an article equal in quality to that which is imported, surely we should be prepared to give a preference to it. Glaxo used to be classified under the hea'ding df infants' or invalids' food, but ite use is not confined to children, and when we proceeded to collect a duty upon it as "dried milk," the manufacturers determined to set up a factory in Australia. They have to-day, at Port Fairy, a magnificent establishment, which must have cost some hundreds of thousands of pounds. That is the sort of thing we want to encourage.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - But why differentiate between Horlick's malted milk and other infants' and invalids' food?

Senator RUSSELL - Because practically the same food is being manufactured in Australia by a firm which intends to extend its factory.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The local industry already enjoys a very good duty under another part of the schedule.

Senator RUSSELL - But why should we import milk of any kind? Have we not an ample supply of good milk? If the Tariff is not to encourage local industry; then what can be its object? As to the suggestion that the duty is excessive, I would point out that on the .pre-war price of this milk the duty was equal to 20 per cent., whereas on the present-day price it is equal to. only 15 per cent.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - What is the retail, price of malted milk at the present time?

Senator RUSSELL - I will obtain that information for the honorable senator. Oi. the pre-war prices a duty of 6d. per lb. would be equal to from 20 per cent to ' 30 per cent, according to whether the article was packed in large or small tins. Malted milk is largely used as a beverage in soda fountains, and that fact, combined with the local manufacture of the article, is the reason for the imposition of a duty. Malted milk consists of about one-third dried milk and two-thirds malt extract

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Will the Department undertake, under its regulations, to free all -malted milk for use in hospitals or to be used as infants' food?

Senator RUSSELL - I shall be glad to bring that suggestion before the Minister (Mr. Greene).

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Will the honorable senator undertake that the departmental regulations will provide that malted milk for use in hospitals shall be admitted free?

Senator RUSSELL - Why should that be done? Why should we give a preference to Horlick's malted milk, when an equally satisfactory article is. being produced locally, and is used to-day in many of our hospitals 1

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I think that the honorable senator misunderstands my request.

Senator RUSSELL - In order that I may be able to supply the Committee with information as to the' price at which malted milk is being sold to the public; and also to enable consideration to ' be given to the request that malted milk for use in hospitals shall be admitted free under departmental by-laws, I propose to report progress. A big industry is involved, and I am very anxious that there shall be no misunderstanding in regard to it.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable senator will not lose sight of the fact that, under an item with which we have already dealt, infants' and invalids' foods, subject to departmental by-laws, are admitted free?

Senator RUSSELL - That is so. I shall obtain, for the guidance of the Committee, the fullest .information on thesubject

Progress reported.

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