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Wednesday, 17 August 1921


Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) , - Senator Duncan's proposition is even more absurd than that which he advanced yesterday. If the request frere agreed to it would mean that not one bar of rolled iron could enter Australia from any .other country than Great Britain.


Senator Duncan - What is wrong with that, so long as the market can be supplied ?


Senator DE LARGIE - It is a pity that the honorable senator has obviously not gone into the matter. To use the case of Germany as an argument in order to debar foreign products by the imposition of an unreasonable rate of duty should not be tolerated by this Committee. There are countries with which Australia is friendly - countries which were our allies - but which will be crushed if such an enormous general duty as 120s. per ton is imposed. After having fought side by side with France and Belgium against Germany, are we now to prohibit a rod of French or Belgian iron from being brought into Australia? Germany is not going to be the great exporter of iron that she was before the war.


Senator Keating - France hopes to take her place, to a considerable extent at any rate.


Senator DE LARGIE - Of necessity, she must do so. She is bound to become a .great iron-producing country, because of the enormous deposits of iron and coal which she has acquired by postwar settlements in Alsace-Lorraine arid in the Saar- Valley. France was more dreadfully crippled by the great conflict than any other country, and I am positive that it is not the wish of the Australian people that she should be discouraged and prevented, indeed, so far as Australian trade is .concerned, from re- instating her industries. As for the cheap foreign production referred to by Senator Duncan, that comment has not the application which some honorable senators may believe -to be the case. In the June files of the London Times I noted that French foundry iron, which is the basicmaterial for the making of rods. and the like, was actually quoted at a higherfigure than the British market price. Itwas £7 per ton. No one can say that such a quotation for raw foundry iron islow. It is, in fact, ' extraordinarily high. A country which' is quoting itsraw product at such a figure cannot besaid to threaten the Australian market with cheap material. The proposal tomake the general duty 120s. is utterlyabsurd.


Senator Duncan - Does the honorablesenator realize that France can be placed under the intermediate Tariff?


Senator DE LARGIE - Well,- even if: that were done! 11004 Customs Tariff [SENATE.] Bill.


Senator Duncan - The honorable senator will see that I am not proposing to raise the rate of duty against France.


Senator DE LARGIE - Even then an enormous duty would have to be paid, and I trust the Committee will not agree to adopt the ridiculous suggestion submitted by Senator Duncan. If the honorable senator's object in submitting his proposal was to absolutely prohibit the importation of German products it might have something to commend it; but he must remember that it would prejudicially affect importations from other countries, including America.


Senator Reid - America treats us similarly.


Senator DE LARGIE - If Senator Reid will only consider the duties imposed on importations into America he will see that such is not the case.


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - At present America is imposing a prohibitive duty on our wool, which is our principal product for export.


Senator DE LARGIE - That may be so; but I am sure we will not gain by imposing a general duty of 120s. per ton on bar iron. If we increase this rate others will have to be increased on a similar scale,


Senator Reid - Did the honorable senator notice at what rate Belgium was producing at the time to which he has referred ?

Seaator DE LARGIE. - In perusing British publications . I found it somewhat difficult to obtain reliable quotations, and I could not ascertain the cost of Belgian iron.


Senator Senior - It is quoted at £17 per . ton duty paid here.

Senator DELARGIE . Middlesborough, which is the greatest ironproducing centre in the United Kingdom, quotes it at £6 15s. per ton, and the American quotation was$26.50 for foundry iron. I do not know whether the figures were correct, but the' rate seems unusually high considering that the exchange is not operating against us. French iron was quoted at £7 per ton, and the Middlesborough product at £6 15s. per ton, which proves that these countries are not producing at very low rates.

Senator RUSSELL (Victoria- Vice-

Presidentof the Executive Council) [11.25]. - I am unable to accept the request submitted by Senator Duncan, because up to the present we have not had any complaint from those engaged in the business, who do not appear to be adversely affected by the duties in force. A similar proposal was submitted to the House of Representatives, where the impression existed that we were endeavouring to impose duties with theobject of meeting the exchange difficulties. Although we have to keep that matter continually before us, a distinct measure will be brought before Parliament for overcoming, as far as possible, the position which at present exists, and which, as I mentioned yesterday, was of more importance than the Tariff itself.


Senator Bolton - Was not the Government proposal rejected in another place ?







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