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Wednesday, 24 August 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - Coal-cutting machines, I am informed, are not at present made in Australia. Will the Minister say whether their manufacture is even contemplated? Time after time, when such prospect has been mentioned, the Government have made provision to impose certain rates of duty - often ranging from 271/2 to 40 per cent. ad valorem - so soon as the manufacture of the implements in question has been begun in this country.

Senator Pearce - Coal-cutting machines are not made in Australia.

Senator LYNCH - I am to understand also that, even should their manufacture be proposed, the Government do not intend to be consistent by providing for the imposition of duties immediately upon the first machine being locally turned out. It may be taken for granted, therefore, that the coal-mining industry is to be accorded a privilege which will not apply to any other phase of mining: If Australian workmen can produce rockcutting machines, why cannot they make coal-cutting machines? Why this extension of an exclusive privilege to the poor old, hard-up coal kings of New South Wales?

Senator Keating - If the honorable senator will move to request the reimposition of the previous rates of duty, I shall support him.

Senator LYNCH - I do not know that I would do that for Senator Keating. The poor colliery proprietor must get his machinery free, while the prosperous metal mine-owner can very well continue to bear imposts ranging from 271/2 to 40 per cent. The fact that mines are actually closing down everywhere does not count. If a man discovers a copper show, of what benefit is that to Australia ? If there should be another great gold discovery, of what use will that be to this country? Despite the prices of metals to-day, metalliferous mines must continue to bear the handicap of Customs duties. But if a man discovers a coal mine, he is immediately guaranteed the practical encouragement of getting his machinery free of duty. What influence is at work, or is there any ? I move -

That the House ofRepresentatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (e), on and after 1st January, 1922, general, ad val., 25 per cent.

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