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Thursday, 25 August 1921

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) . - The question of protecting the industry with higher rates of duty has been fully considered. The painting of ships with anti-fouling composition is a rather considerable local industry; and the Government do not wish to drive it away from Australia. An application was made to the Inter-State Commission by a Sydney manufacturer for an increase in duty of 2s. 6d.per gallon, which is equal to 25s. per cwt. But the Commission recommended that the rates should remain at 4s. and 4s. 6d., on the ground that the amount of employment in the manufacture of the composition, if all requirements were locally met, would be inappreciable compared with that involved in the docking and painting of vessels. Messrs. Chas. Atkins and Company, of Melbourne, applied in February last for a higher duty on ship's anti-fouling composition on the ground that the firm was able to cater for the requirements of the Commonwealth. A similar application was made some time ago by Mr. McLeod, of Sydney. Inquiries from the Melbourne Harbor Board and the Commonwealth Line of Steamers revealed that one of the local products was of poor quality, and that another had not been long enough in use to prove its value. In another instance, however, a small trial had been made by the Union Steam-ship Company. . The composition had stood the test under water for several months, and had shown every sign of being satisfactory. Upon the whole of the evidence, however - which, though incomplete, was not encouraging - the Department felt that it was not justified at the time in increasing the rates of duty. The Minister for Trade and Customs personally went into the whole subject.

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