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Thursday, 18 August 1921

Senator ELLIOTT (Victoria) -. - I support the proposal of the- Govern^ ment. I should have preferred,, how.ever, to see some, provision made for the interval, between now and. the date- at which the deferred duties will come into operation. Before the war the great German firm of Krupp's produced, large quantities of these aluminium, plates. My imforman t on this matter is a Scotsman, who before the war was employed at Krupp's, and also possesses considerable knowledge of conditions in Switzerland'. In regard to the latter country, he tells me that there is no' aluminium plant there, and he showed me samples of articles produced by Krupp's and imported into Australia as from Switzerland. In confirmation of this, he showed on the plates themselves certain words' written in German. At the present time that gentleman is representing in Australia a British firm which, established during the- war, has made great strides', and- he preferred a request that there should bc a duty of 15 per cent, on the foreign article,, leaving a British preference of 15 per cent. I have no objection to the. Government proposal, because it maintains that preference when the duties become operative. At the same time, it is my. desire that this industry shall- be established in Australia,, because I regard it as one of great importance. Honorable senators may be aware that the whole of the water-bottles for the Defence Forces are now made of aluminium on account of the lightness of the material; which is more and more being used in the manufacture of mess tins and other articles of the sort. I am informed that there are extensive natural deposits of the metal itself in Australia, and' if we desire to establish the industry here we should* support a duty, even on the British article, in order to develop our natural resources. Then, again, a great deal of the metal work in the construction of aeroplanes, work which is becoming increasingly important, both commercially and from a defence point of view, is* of aluminium; and it is very desirable that we should be self-supporting in this regard. Events in the future may temporarily cut us off from Europe, and if we are then dependent for supplies of this kind on Great Britain, or any other part of the world, we shall find ourselves in a very desperate situation. It is from that point of view I support the" Minister, but I am just a little- anxious as to whether adequate1 provision is made to keep out the German goods, pending the establishment of the industry here.

Senator Russell - We have- full power to keep out German goods, but our difficulty is to prove German origin.

Senator ELLIOTT - I recognise the difficulty, and I propose to cut the Gordian knot with a 25 per cent. duty. Articles of German, manufacture may have been taken into Switzerland years ago, and others may have some little work done to them in that country; .with a view to claiming Swiss origin.

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