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Friday, 26 August 1921

Senator WILSON (South Australia) . - I curtailed my last remarks because I desired to know the nature of the request that Senator Pratten intended to move. It certainly never occurred to me that he would submit a request for the free admission of only that class of sulphur which is used with a little treacle on Sunday mornings in the rearing of large families. I have not been at all convinced by the arguments that have so far been adduced in support of the honorable senator's request. The purpose of the Tariff is to assist local manufacturers; but in this case the proposal is made to permit the free admission of superphosphates made in foreign countries, while the manufacturer of superphosphates within the bounds of the Commonwealth is to be saddled with a duty on a raw material essential to that manufacture. It is difficult to believe that Senator Earle was serious in his reference to the tens of thousands of men who are employed in Australia in the sulphur-producing industry. The honorable senator is well aware that the productiou of sutyhur is only a little side line in connexion with most of our mines. I am given to understand that the bulk of our importations of sulphur are used in the manufacture of superphosphates. The proposal which has now been made really means that, in addition to the duties which have already been imposed under this schedule on our primary producers, they must pay 5s. per ton on all the superphosphates they use. I understand that some arrangement is likely to be made to adjust the Tariff in respect of sulphur and superphosphates, but it is distinctly the duty of this Committee to protect the interests of those who use sulphur in the manufacture of superphosphates in Australia until that arrangement is made. I intend to ask the Committee to make superphosphates free. If that course is followed, there will be no occasion for Senator Pratten's request with regard to the Sunday morning sulphur. The position in this matter is so- clear that even one of ourFree Trade friends had to be rushed in to support a heavy duty on an article which is so useful to Australia.

Senator Earle - It is not a heavy duty.

Senator WILSON - Does the honorable senator' mean to say that a duty of 50s. per ton on sulphur is not a heavy duty ? The honorable senator to whom I have referred was brought in here at the eleventh hour to scream on behalf of the miners, when he knows that the proposal will not make " tuppenceha'penny " worth of difference to ' the miners of Australia, since the production of sulphur is merely a side-issue in mining. Honorable senators are not to be caught napping in that way. We have since had a request submitted with respect to a kind of sulphur of which very little is imported. That is merely another red herring drawn across the trail.

Senator Pearce - Does the honorable senator say that Senator Thomas was " rushed "?

Senator WILSON - I say that he was rushed in here. The honorable senator was nearly winded when he arrived. I intend to do my best to see that sulphur is admitted free until we know where we are with respect to the conditions upon which superphosphates are to be admitted.

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