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Thursday, 18 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I have no objection to the withdrawal of the request; but I object to Senator Pratten making statements which are not in accord with the facts. The retail price of galvanized iron in Melbourne to-day is £50 per .ton.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Would the honorable senator care to read my authority for the figures I have given?

Senator GARDINER - More reliance oan be placed upon the quotations one finds in the daily press. Let the honorab;e senator ring up any business firm, and ask the price of galvanized iron.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I suppose that the high-priced stocks of galvanized iron in the hands of the merchants are not yet exhausted.

Senator GARDINER - I am sorry that Senator Pratten made the very grave mistake of marring a good case by understating the value of galvanized iron. The duty upon the wholesale price is fixed.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I thought that the duty was based upon the f.o.b. value, plus 10 per cent.

Senator GARDINER - I suppose that that would be very close to the wholesale selling price. For five years past galvanized iron has not been sold in Australia within £20 of the price mentioned by .Senator Pratten; and, although the war has been over for three years, no one is able to buy galvanized iron at under £50 per ton. In fact, within the last three months I paid £66 per ton for some. I bought at Anthony Hordern's, in 'Sydney. Senator Pratten wants ad valorem duties, so that the higher the price of the article the more duty the importer will bo expected to pay. I wonder how the Protectionist Age would like to see ad valorem duties imposed upon newsprint. My idea of fixing a duty is to make the impost lighter the dearer the commodity becomes, so that people may get it at the cheapest possible price. I hope that the Government will oppose ad valorem rates, which have the effect of making the amount of duty payable go up or down, according to how the market is arranged. In any case, an aci valorem rate is a dangerous form of protection to the manufacturer. A fixed rate assures him that, although he will get no increased protection, the rate will not be decreased.

Request, by leave, withdrawn.

Item agreed to.

Item 146 (Plates, sheets, pipes, &c), agreed 'to.

Item 147-

Iron and steel, viz.: - 'Plates and sheets, plain tinned ... on and after 1st January, 1922, per ton, British, 76s.; intermediate, 95s.; general, 115s. "Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) [4.57]. - I move -

That the House of Representatives be requested to make the item, British, free.

It is almost twenty-four hours since I asked the Committee to say whether they desired to encourage trade with Great Britain. A duty of 76s. per ton against British manufacturers of tinned plate is a pretty stiff impost.

Senator Drake-Brockman - Perhaps the Minister would explain why such a rate is to be imposed.

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