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Tuesday, 9 August 1921

Senator CRAWFORD (Queensland) . - It would be a grave mistake in the circumstances of to-day to reduce any duty unless very strong reasons are advanced in favour of doing so.

Senator Payne - No one proposes a reduction of the old Tariff, but we are anxious to know why the new Tariff shows an increase.

SenatorCRAWFORD.- The Tariff we are now discussing has been in operation for a considerable time. In view of the fact that we have a number of condensed milk factories, and that during the war period we built up a considerable export, there is no danger whatever of unfair advantage being taken by the manufacturers of the protection afforded to them in the present schedule. We know that the conditions of the world are very unsettled. There is over-production in many directions, and in a number of countries manufacturers are experiencing great' difficulty in finding a profitable market for their products. It may be that there is a danger of having condensed milk dumped here. At any rate, it is our duty to see that our local manufacturers' trade is not likely to be dislocated by large quantities of other countries' products being suddenly dumped into our market. We were able to build up a big export trade during the war because the manufacturers in Australia were getting their sugar at half the price paid by manufacturers abroad. I am told that our export trade in condensed milk represents about 30 lbs. of sweetened to every lb. of unsweetened milk.

Senator Payne - Our imports were larger during the war period than they are now.

Senator CRAWFORD - That may be, but we have to remember that during the war period, after a few months had elapsed, there were thousands of soldiers returning to Australia; and I presume that the milk they required on their homeward voyage had to be purchased abroad. It would be impossible to calculate to a few cwts., or even to a few tons, the milk required on such a voyage, and, consequently, on our troopships a considerable quantity of condensed milk, along with other ship's stores, would be brought into Australia. This milk, I understand, was calculated as having been imported, although it might be re-exported the next week or the next month. The Committee should hesitate to interfere with the existing duties. The trade conditions of the world are unstable at the present time, and, although at present our industries are flourishing in the absence of interference toany extent, they may be in. a very different position a few months hence. Very shortly we may hope to have the Tariff Board in working order, and that should be able to protect the public from exploitation by the manufacturers of condensed milk or other products.

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