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Tuesday, 9 August 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- Although the figures given by the Minister are very interesting, they do not touch upon the point that I have made, namely, that in view of the fact that industries have been successfully established in Australia for the manufacture of condensed milk, and have proved very profitable to their proprietors, there is no necessity for increased duties. Already the local article has pushed the foreign product out of the market, and I quite agree with SenatorRussell that we ought to be in a position to supply our own needs in this direction. As a matter of fact, we are doing so. The figures quoted by the Minister show that the foreign milk has gradually been pushed out of the local market.

SenatorRussell. - That was merely during the war, hut now the products of foreign countries are coming into our markets very rapidly.

Senator PAYNE - The last figures quoted show that the importation is now very small as compared with previous years. I am anxious to refrain from imposing a heavy duty unless it can be shown to be necessary, in the interests of some Australian industry. If it can be shown that the condensed milk factories of Australia cannot furnish a wholesome article without further protection, I am prepared to favorably consider giving them that protection ; but, so far, it has not been proved that our factories are not able to carry on their operations eminently satisfactorily under the rate of duty contained in the old Tariff. On the other hand, they have demonstrated that they can supply a wholesome article, which is so much appreciated by the Australian public that importations have practically ceased, and we have evidence that largequantities of condensed milk are exported from Australia. There would be some reason for imposing this extra duty if the dairymen were to gain some benefit from it, but there is no indication that the additional impost has been placed in the Tariff for that purpose, and I am not prepared to vote for a higher duty simply to provide for the possibility of an immediate increase in the price of a commodity so largely used in Australia, particularly, by people who live so many miles from the centres of population, and where fresh milk is unobtainable.

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