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Thursday, 18 August 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I should like to complete the argument I had started with regard to the cost price of this firm's basic material. The firm is paying £14 10s. per ton today, as against £8 paid by their competitors, for the blooms for making sheets; £35 a ton for Australian zinc, as against £25 a ton abroad; and £5 10s. for acids, as against £3 10s. paid abroad. It will be seen at once that the duty of £3 12s. entirely disappears when we consider the firm:s position in relation to that of its competitors abroad.

Senator Drake-Brockman - The honorable senator and others advocated high duties on blooms.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am advocating protection for this industry, as .the first line of defence of the Commonwealth. I am sure the honorable senator will agree with General Sir John Monash that we .must establish these key industries if we hope to do any good with even a trained Army. That is why I consistently- advocate that the key metal industries shall be adequately and fairly protected. And what is fair protection? If a duty which is equivalent, say, on a world's future parity of price, to 6d. per 6-foot sheet, is. imposed in order to preserve the industry, it will not mean 6d. per 6-foot sheet, or a Id. a foot on galvanized iron according to length, to the' galvanized iron manufacturer, but, so far as I have been able to, work out the figures, it will mean 2d. a sheet to the Broken Hill industry in- view of the duties that have been passed by this Committee. It will mean 2d. a sheet to the zinc industry, k .view of the item we passed a few minutes ago, and there will remain to this very important galvanized iron industry a real protection of only 2d. per sheet. I think that, in accordance with other items in the Tariff, in regard to which 25 per cent, duties have been unhesitatingly ' passed by the Committee as fair protection to the manufacturers of metal, a fair thing would be a British preferential duty of 25 per cent. Therefore, I propose to move that in lieu of the duties at present in the schedule there be substituted duties of 25 per cent., 30 per cent., and 35 per cent., on and after the 1st November. That will bring this item into line with other items passed by the Committee, and will also provide more reasonable duties in the peculiar circumstances of this- industry. There is no reason to doubt that if this industry had been established during the war it would have saved the consumers of galvanized iron nearly £20 per ton. I have pointed out how the average imports of galvanized iron into this country from 1915 have averaged over £50 per ton f.o.b. value. Honorable senators know as well as I do that, owing to the shortage of supplies from England, the profiteering by American importers or manufacturers, and to short supplies getting into the hands of speculators, the retail price rocketed sky high. The establishment of this industry will prevent a repetition of this sort of thing - there will have to be paid out of the slight protection I ask, Inter-State freight from Newcastle all round the coast-the position will be stabilized, and the whole of its processes will be carried out by Australian workmen with Australian material. If the industry develops, as I hope and believe it will, it will be able to sustain an extra population here of 20,000 persons. I move -

That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties on and after 1st November, 1921. ad val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent. ; general; 35 per cent.

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