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Thursday, 11 August 1921

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable senator will be quite in order in briefly referring to such items by way of illustration, but he must. not do so extensively. The discussion of the schedule in such a manner would lead to great confusion.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Formerly shovels were imported from the United Kingdom free of duty, and were liable to a duty of 10 per cent, if imported from foreign .countries. They are now declared to be subject to a duty of 30 per cent. when imported from the United Kingdom and 35 per cent, when from foreign countries. Plough and teamsters' .chains were once admitted free or dutiable at 5 per cent., according to the country of origin, but since the 1st December last they are dutiable at 30 per cent, and 35 per cent., according to the country of manufacture. Those are two specific instances where the Tariff has been amended and duties imposed under departmental by-laws.

Senator Keating - The honorable senator does not suggest that those duties were unauthorized by this Tariff schedule.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Let us consider how item 219 has been dealt with.

The CHAIRMAN - The Tariff is specifically divided into items, and I cannot allow the honorable senator to pass numerous pages of the schedule and proceed to discuss, item 219.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - If you will permit me, Mr. Chairman, I shall, merely refer to this item in support of the request moved by Senator Senior. Item 219 reads -

Tools of trade, for the use of artisans and mechanics, and tools in general use, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, ad val., free, 5 per cent., and 10 per cent.

Senator Keating - That gives a wide discretion to the Department.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Shovels were classified as tools of trade and were largely imported, free of duty, from the United Kingdom until, owing to the exigencies of war, supplies were received from the United States. Since the Tariff has been in operation that classification has been altered, and these particular articles have been brought under the item, "manufactures of metals n.e.i.," and are now held liable to a duty of 30 per cent, when imported from the United Kingdom, and 35 per cent, when from foreign countries. Needless to say, very strong protests were made .to the Minister, but without effect. Here we have a specific case where tools of trade - and. surely to Heaven, ,a shovel is a tool of trade! - came in free until the classification was altered and the duties 'I have mentioned were imposed. If the request is adopted it. will be necessary for such alterations in duties to be embodied in a regulation which would have to be laid on the table of the House and accepted or rejected. I do not think a regulation imposing such duties would be accepted by this Parliament.

The CHAIRMAN - Order ! The honorable senator's time has expired.

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