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Tuesday, 23 August 1921

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Repatriation) (12:18 PM) . - I assume that Senator Payne's remarks are in reference to machine heads, as the tables and transmission gear have been manufactured in Australia for some time. A deferred duty is proposed, because steps are being taken to establish the industry in Australia. I have been assured that a company is to be formed to take over and enlarge a small factory started in this city by a Mr. Wilson. I had that fact brought under my notice in connexion with the work of the Repatriation Department when Mr. Wilson made an offer concerning his rights and skill with a view to starting an industry in which returned soldiers incapacitated for heavier work could be employed. This gentleman has now been able to satisfy the Minister that he is within reasonable distance of floating a company, provided the Tariff is passed in its present form, which will be able to turn out 2,000 machines per week. I feel sure that if that output can be realized the Committee will be prepared to give the industry the protection desired. Again I remind the Committee that under clause 11 of this Bill the Minister for Trade and Customs has, on the advice of the Tariff Board, the right to suspend the operation of any postponed duty embodied in this schedule. 'If the proposed duties are agreed to and it is found that the prospects of the venture are not sound, or that it will not materialize, the Minister for Trade and Customs will further defer the operation of the duties. The passing of the duties in the way proposed gives an assurance to those disposed to invest their capital in the industry that if they do so they will receive the measure of protection set out in this schedule.

Senator Lynch - At what point in the development of the industry would the duties be imposed ?

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Tha t is a matter on which the Tariff Board will advise the Minister for Trade and Customs. The Minister would not put the duties into operation if only a few machines were being produced. The gentleman of whom I spoke gave a demonstration in offering his concern to the Repatriation Department, and showed that a number of machines were being manufactured at the present time. The Minister for Trade and Customs would not regard the manufacture of only a few machines as a commercial proposition. He would expect the manufacturer to be able to turn them, out in reasonable numbers, and if he fails to do so the Minister will have power under the Customs Tariff Bill to defer still further the operation of the duties now (proposed.

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