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Thursday, 18 August 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - Senator Wilson has just intimated his intention to move in the direction I originally suggested when I directed attention to the different duties proposed on steel . rails of different weights. An arbitrary line is drawn at rails weighing 50 lbs. per yard and over, and an extra tax is imposed upon the users of 45-lb. rails. I know of branch lines in this country, run by private enterprise over a distance or 145 miles, which are laid with 45-lb. rails. Such lines will be subjected to a very serious tax under this ill-balanced proposal of the Government. Why ' should users of rails weighing 50 lbs. per yard and over be able to secure their requirements for 10s. per ton less than those who use rails of 45 lbs. per yard will be called upon to pay? I support the contention of pre vious speakers, that this discrimination is really a ta* upon production. It is a tax upon development, and .a heavier tax upon those engaged in private enterprises than upon the community as a whole.

Senator Duncan - The honorable senator is under a misapprehension.

Senator LYNCH - It should not be forgotten that the development of a State does not depend entirely on public effort. The, development, particularly of the younger States, possessing huge territories, depends as much upon private enterprise as upon State enterprise. As timber and mining resources are becoming exhausted, those exploiting them must go further afield. Why should they be called upon under this schedule to pay an extra duty if they use the lighter rails ? Some branch lines in the State I know most about, .Western Australia, extend for over 130 miles, and the extra duty on the lighter rails in such cases will involve considerable extra expenditure. The proposal to impose an extra duty of 10s. per ton on the lighter rails represents a direct tax on private and State enterprise requiring the lighter rails for development purposes. I shall be prepared to support the request of which Senator Wilson has given notice, to make the duties the same on sub-items a and b, without respect to the weight of the rails.

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