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Tuesday, 9 August 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- WhenI asked this afternoon for further information concerning this item, I did not think that I would open up such a lengthy debate as we have had. I find that when the Tariff was before another place,no information was given by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) as to the reason for these increased duties. He was absolutely silent on the point. The only information I have been able to obtain in support of the plea for higher duties in respect of this item is contained in the Australian Tariff Hand-book, which has been published and distributed amongst honorable senators by a Protectionist organization that is anxious to place before the Parliament reasons why increased protection should be granted to various industries. In an article on the preserved milk industry,which appears in this publication, it is stated that -

The first attempts to manufacture in Australia were made twenty or more years ago; but it is only during the last decade that they can be said to have been successful. The imposition of the duty of 2d. per lb. by the Tariff of 1908 has made all the difference between a possible paying industry and a barely existing or losing one.

That refers to the duty of 2d. per lb. on sweetened milk. My proposal is that the duty shall be the same in respect of both sweetened and unsweetened milk. The article continues -

The duty of lid. per lb. on unsweetened condensed milk compares very unfavorably with that on the sweetened article, and is wholly inadequate. . . . It is to give protection against post-war competition from countries like America and New Zealand that the trade feels itself justified in asking that the duty should be at least1¾d. per lb. That would still be a trifle less per cent. than the duty on sweetened condensed milk. If the two duties were made uniform, viz., 2d. per' lb., there is no doubt whatever that the manu facture of unsweetenedcondensed milk would be given a great and needed impetus.

It will thus be seen that the duty I am proposing is slightly higher than the rate advocated in this Protectionist publication.

Senator Lynch - Why give those engaged in . the industry more than they want ?

Senator PAYNE - My object is to give the slightly additional protection necessary to meet the reduction that has taken place in the natural protection enjoyed by the industry during the war period.

Senator Elliott - The Australian Tariff Hand-book, from which the honorable senator has quoted, was published in 1919. Since then wages have increased very considerably.

Senator PAYNE - That point is met by the higher rate which I propose, as compared with the rate advocated in the Tariff Hand-book.- According to this article, a duty of 2d. per lb. on both, sweetened and unsweetened milk would afford the industry adequate protection.

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