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Tuesday, 9 August 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- I desire to obtain from the Minister (Senator Russell) some information in regard to sub-item a, which provides for a duty of 2d. per lb. under the British preferential Tariff, 2½d. per lb. under the intermediate Tariff, and 3d. per lb. under the general Tariff on sweetened and unsweetened, preserved, condensed, and concentrated milk. I find that the 1914 Tariff imposed on sweetened milk a duty of only l½d-. per lb. under the British preferential Tariff and 2d. per lb. under' the general Tariff, and duties of1d. and l¼d. in respect of unsweetened milk. We have had no explanation from the Minister in justification of this large increase. I understood the honorable senator to say on Friday that the industry had become so firmly established here under the old Tariff that the great bulk of its product was now being exported. If that is so, why should these additional duties be neces sary unless they will directly benefit those engaged in the primary industry of dairying. If the increase is solely to enable those engaged in the manufacture of concentrated and condensed milk to make larger profits I am not disposed to support it. We must not overlook the principal use to which condensed milk is put in Australia, and where it is most largely consumed. Honorable senators will agree with me that condensed milk is most largely sold in mining camps and among those living outside big centres of population. If the increased duties will mean an increase in the price of condensed milk to Australian consumers, and will not confer any corresponding benefit on the suppliers of the raw material, and so enable dairymen to cope more successfully with the difficulties of their industry, I shall not support them. I take it that no honorable senator will support an increased duty unless it is necessary to build up or stabilize the industry or will give some direct benefit to' the primary producer. The price of condensed milk is high enough already, and I think the Minister should be asked to justify the proposed increases.

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