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Friday, 26 August 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - Sub-item b, as it has been amended elsewhere, includes " blanks, fused, for bifocal lenses." I suggest that the phrase be taken out, and made a new sub-item d, upon which the rates of 30, 35, and 40 per cent. be reduced, respectively, to 10, 15, and 20 per cent. Most of the work associated with the manufacture of spectacles is now done by opticians throughout Australia from' imported blanks. I have in my hand two pieces of Optical material. One is the rough fused blank for a bifocal lens, and the other is the finished fused lens. I have been informed that the procedure involved in producing the finished article consists of importing rough blanks and flint glass buttons, and fusing them. The operation does not engage considerable Australian labour, but, if there is practically the same duty upon the rough glass - that is, upon the raw material - as upon the finished material, there will be a considerable increase in the cost of spectacles.

Senator Pearce - Leaving local manufacture out of consideration.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - No ! These fused bifocals are the raw materials required in optical workshops throughout the Commonwealth. If the cost of the raw material is made prohibitive, both labour and ultimate cost will be affected. The wishes of the trade would be met if the duties on " Blanks, fused, for bifocallenses " were made half those imposed upon fused bifocal lenses partly or wholly finished.

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