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Wednesday, 10 August 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I move -

That the House ofRepresentativesbe requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), general, per lb., 6d. ; or ad val., 35 per cent.

If this is agreed to I shall submit a request that the duty, British, be 4d., or ad valorem 25 per cent.; and intermediate 5d., or ad valorem 30 per cent.

Senator Keating - Do you not propose to alter the word "higher" to " lower"?

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - No. I do not propose to interfere with that principle in the Tariff ; I think it is a good one. I am moving for a reduction in the duty for the reason that the material largely used now in the manufacture of soap is not tallow and animal fats, but is the product of the coconut which comes from the South Sea Islands, namely, oil expressed from copra. It cannot, therefore, be argued that it is necessary to protect soap and thus help our primary producers, and seeing that this Tariff has in creased the duty on soap considerably I think it is high time we called a halt when there is no industry to be preserved by raising the duty. In the 1911 Tariff the British preferential duty was 25 per cent., or 4d. per lb ; in the 1914 Tariff it was 30 per cent., or 5d. per lb.; and in this Tariff it has been raised to 35 per cent., or 6d. per lb.; while the general Tariff has been increased in a much greater ratio than the figures I have read. It cannot be argued, either, that the soap industry in Australia is not now on a permanent basis as a result of former Protective duties. According to figures for the financial year 1919-20, the export trade in toilet, fancy and medicated soaps totalled 542,000 lbs., valued at £51,000; while the exports of the commoner soaps totalled no less than 8,000,000 lbs., valued at over £174,000.

Senator Keating - Is the honorable, member quoting from the Tariff Handbook ?

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - No ; I am quoting from official statistics No. 17 of The Trade and Customs and Excise Revenue of the Commonwealth of Australia. In view of these figures, I see no reason for an increase of duty, because, as I have said, animal fats do not now enter so largely into the manufacture of soap.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) -Can the honorable senator give the proportion of tallow and vegetable oils used in the manufacture of soap?

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I have it on excellent authority that the bulk of the material now used in the manufacture of soap is vegetable oil, not tallow; but I cannot give the exact proportions.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - That would be for the fancy soaps.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - And for a good deal of the common soap also. While the 1914 Tariff was in operation, local manufacturers exported large quantities of both fancy and ordinary soaps, and therefore there seems to be no reason for the higher duty.

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