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Thursday, 25 August 1921

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I move-

That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (f) by making tung oil free.

Tung oil, which enters into the making of varnishes, is extracted from a nut, and is produced only in China. The best varnishes are made with linseed oil, but there are certain varnishes in the manufacture of which tung oil is necessary.

The disadvantage of imposing a duty on that oil is that that increases the cost of the varnish in which it is used, and tends to destroy the export trade in such varnishes. It has been suggested that a rebate of the duty paid on tung oil used in the manufacture of varnishes for export should be made. That, however, would mean that the users of such varnishes abroad would obtain them for less than local users have to pay. We ought to endeavour to avoid such an anomaly. In some cases the practice has to be followed. For instance, a rebate is allowed in respect of the duty on sugar used in jam and condensed milk for export, but I fail to see why the people outside should be supplied by Australian manufacturers at prices below those charged to the local consumers. Tung oil is necessary in the manufacture of insulating and electrical varnish, which cannot be made with linseed oil. It is also used in damp-resisting compositions, lacquers for meat and jam tins, and as a dressing for hardwood. The only argument that can be used against its free importation is that it may enter into competition with linseed oil manufactured in Australia, but as the varnishes to which I have referred can be madeonly with tung oil, such would not be the case. I recently visited a Sydney varnish manufacturer who uses this oil, and he informed me that since the duty has been in force the export trade with China and Singapore has been lost, possibly because supplies are being obtained from America, where tung oil is admitted free.

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