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Thursday, 25 August 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I have given notice of a request for an alteration in the verbiage of this item, and I move -

That the House of Representatives be requested to add the following: - " (a) Materials for agricultural and horticultural spraying, sprinkling and irrigation systems, ad val., British, 15 per cent. ; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 30 per cent."

If this request be adopted, I intend to move the addition of a further paragraph, " (b) n.e.i,", and leave the Committee to fix what duties they desire. In my own State, to which my knowledge of this matter is confined, there are several industries which supply to orchardists, small farmers, florists, and so forth, spraying, sprinkling, and irrigation systems. Under the Tariff as passed by this Committee, unless the alteration I propose is made, those industries must be placed in a most unfair position. They will be called upon to pay on the parts imported from abroad for the purposes I have stated considerably higher duties under this item than are paid on the completed machines; in other words, parts are at present charged under item 208, 35 per cent., 40 per cent., and 45 per cent., whereas the complete machine under item 161, which the Committee has passed, will come in at 15 per cent., 25 per cent., and 30 per cent. This is a handicap in the case of those parts which enable the farmer or the fruit-grower to erect his own irrigation system. Unless this amendment is made, such a man will have to pay 35 per cent., British preference, on parts, whereas the completed machine from abroad will pay only 15 per cent., and as a general duty he will have to pay 45 per cent., as against 30 per cent. under item 161. For the information of the Committee I desire to read the following letter which I have received from Herbert James Rumsey of Dundas, New South Wales, who is one of the persons who supplies these home-made irrigation systems. He says: -

My system is one under which any settler can fix his own irrigation plant. It includes drilling machine, nozzles, and a patent device for turning the pipe back and forth. . . . My type, which are used in thousands, they have never attempted to make here. . . . We have supplied the material for over 1,200 installations of my system; but recently, with the awful handicap of high-priced pipes, and 45 per cent. duty on the fittings (even the drilling machine, which cannot be made locally, is taxed), the cost is getting prohibitive, and though we get plenty of applications for estimates, very few of them are now being carried out. . . . My irrigation parts, which are really the raw material from which the settler is manufacturing his own irrigation plant, are charged at 45 per cent. duty. There are good reasons why they cannot be manufactured locally at present, and I have to pay a higher duty on them than is charged on completed sprinklers, though we make up sprinklers from them, and have to sell in competition with the imported article, paying a lower duty.

I have taken some trouble to verify the position I am settingout, and I submit that unless the item is altered in the direction I have indicated, local industry will not get fair play. A most unfair tax will be placed on the people who manufacture these things, in view of the lower duties on the completed article imported from abroad. I am quite aware that included in the materials that I am asking shall be admitted under the same duty that the Committee has passed in the case of item 161, are wrought-iron pipes; that 2-in. and 3-in. pipes are now free., 5 per cent., and 10 per cent., and that on 1st January next, provided the industry is established- which I do not think is at all likely - they will be dutiable at 271/2 per cent., 35 per cent., and 40 per cent. The 4-in. pipes are now dutiable at those rates, and are not made in Australia. I submit this request for the purpose of making it reasonably easy for the fruit-grower, the florist, or the small farmer to have his own irrigation plant at a reasonable price. I do not think there is either justice or equity, or any regard shown for the interests of men such as these, in charging a higher duty on parts than is paid on the completed article.

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