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Thursday, 25 August 1921

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) . - Senator Pratten will admit that he has not given the Government much notice of his intention to submit this request, which I saw only about an hour ago.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I raised the question on another item last week, when, perhaps, Senator Pearce was not here.

Senator PEARCE - I was not aware of that. We have not had much time; but as far as I have been able, I have had the matter looked into by the officials of the Department. Their first criticism, which is a departmental one, is that where items are split up as now proposed, great care has to be taken in the wording, because it is under just such items that disputes arise as to interpretation. They say that the verbiage is vague, and this, I am informed, is likely to cause difficulty in administration. Further, the request cannot be accepted, because it is inconsistent with the Tariff. It will mean that the Australian manufacturer who can manufacture, as he does, certain of these parts will have his material imported at the low rate of duties proposed by Senator Pratten.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - They are the same rates as in item 161.

Senator PEARCE - The course proposed is not taken in the case of any other industry. We impose a duty on the completed article in order to encourage manufacture, and we impose the same duty on parts, unless it is otherwise specified. If Senator Pratten, for instance, refers to item 192, he will see that "brass work, bronze work, and gun-metal work for general engineering and plumbing and other trades " pays, exactly the same duties as are provided in item 208. Under Senator Pratten's proposal it would be possible for certain material, which the Committee has agreed shall be dutiable at certain rates, to come in, if used for another purpose, dutiable at lower rates. How could the Department follow the material up to see that it was used for the purpose specified ?

Senator Wilson - It is equally difficult for the trader or manufacturer to follow tha Customs regulations.

Senator PEARCE - That is quite likely; but I think that the position has only to be stated to show the confusion that would arise under the proposal of Senator Pratten. I submit that sprinklers and the materials for sprinklers are already largely mnaufactured in the Commonwealth. A' boot manufacturer advocates protection for his boots, but would like leather to be admitted free. THat is a view which the Committee cannot adopt; one manufacturer is as much entitled to protection as another. We must be careful that, in looking after the interests of the man who simply assembles parts we do not kill the industry of manufacturing parts. ' Senator Pratten has told us that certain of these parts cannot be made locally, but, if that is so, there is clearly redress under item 404, which admits free under the British preferential and intermediate Tariffs, and at 10 1 per cent, under the general Tariff, " materials and minor articles, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, for use in 'the manufacture of goods within the Commonwealth." All that the manufacturers to whom Senator Pratten has referred have to demonstrate is that the parts they require cannot be made in the Commonwealth.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I said that some of the n arts are not made in the Commonwealth.

Senator PEARCE - Then those parts will dome under item 404. I suggest the possibility that those who have communicated with Senator Pratten are not aware of |that fact; indeed, a case of the kind came under our notice only this morning. Halving in view the difficulty of interpretation, and the confusion which would arise if this request were adopted, and also bearing in mind the desirability of protecting, not only those who manufacture the completed machines, but those who manufacture parts, I think that Senator Pratten ought to withdraw the request.

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