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Thursday, 18 August 1921

Senator RUSSELL (Victoria) (VicePresident of the' Executive Council) . -. - Wire netting is extensively manufactured by Lysaght Brothers and Company, of Sydney. Their plant is capable of turning out 1,600 miles of netting per month. Other manufacturers are Malloch Brothers, Perth; and the Samson Wire Netting Company, of Sydney. The manufacture of barbed wire and. wire netting has been hampered by the difficulty in obtaining supplies of wire from overseas; but it is expected that this obstacle will be overcome very soon by the establishment of works at Newcastle. Such works will be able to supply galvanized wire more cheaply than it can be imported. The position in regard to wire netting and the arrangement of the duties in comparison with those on wire depend on the same conditions that apply to barbed wire. Rylands Brothers Limited are erecting a plant at Newcastle which they expect to be in operation towards the end of this year, and which will manufacture wires for all purposes. I have a letter from Rylands Brothers, which I will quote that honorable senators may know what they think of the duties proposed. It is dated 18th August, 1921, and is as follows : -

Dear Sir,

The duties of British preference 68s. per ton, intermediate 85s. per ton, and general 105s. per ton under item 158 on wire netting were passed by the House of Representatives, and we ask your support to those figures on the following "grounds: -

Our firm was approached by the Government With a view to establishing works for the manufacture of netting in Australia. The general manager of the company visited Australia to investigate the position, and as a result of his inquiries it was decided to erect works for the manufacture of wire netting and of fine wires at Newcastle.

The works neve now been set up, and we started the manufacture of wire netting two months ago. The capital actually invested in Australia in this industry by us amounts to £400,000. This venture was gone into on the assurance of the protection shown in the Tariff, the present rates of which are now low, and are the absolute minimum on which it would be possible to carry the industry on successfully.

We manufacture the netting with wire made by ourselves at Newcastle from Australian raw material', and of the quality that has made our name the standard throughout the world. When we started our plant at Newcastle we began by offering our netting at about £13 per mile below the prices then ruling, feeling that with the duty we would be able to supply all Australian requirements and produce cheaply, because we would be producing on a large scale. If the duty is reduced, wire netting will be imported, our output reduced, and our cost of production increased in consequence, and we would therefore have to raise our selling price to meet the increased cost of production. ,-

In the production of wire netting the labour cost is very high, and we employ a large number of highly skilled operators. The number employed by us throughout our works is very large, and we have every reason to assure you that this will be one of the largest industries in Australia, assuming we can retain the measure of protection now offered. Trusting you will give this your sympathetic consideration.

The duty proposed on wire, iron, and steel as prescribed by departmental bylaws for the manufacture of wire netting is 90s. in the general Tariff, and the duty on the completed article is 105s. in the general Tariff. The difference of 15s. per ton represents the additional protection afforded to the manufacture of wire netting. Surely honorable senators will not consider the duty extreme in the circumstances.

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