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Thursday, 17 November 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - I indorse all that has been said by Senators Wilson and Gardiner as to the necessity for giving special preference to the Old Country in connexion with manufactures. The local manuf acturers of these goods are given ample protection. No application for increased d uties on them was made to the InterState Commission when inquiring into the Tariff. However, the resourceful and inventive Ministerial mind discovered that duties of 30, 40, and 50 per cent, should be imposed. It does not matter, of course, who pays them. It is about time we asked what protection these people want. Rule-of thumb decisions are to be found on every page of the Tariff. I am not sure that I get correct information from the Department when I ask for it in connexion with important items. When this item was previously under consideration I made inquiries about an electric welding machine which is rarely used in this country. I was told, in the first place, by Senator E. D. Millen, that it was not made in Australia, and so should be put on the free list. I carried my inquiries further, and was informed by the responsible head of the Trade and Customs Department that it was found that this particular machine was being made here. I learned then from an. engineering firm in Western Australia that was concerned in the matter, that the information given me that the machine was being made in Australia was incorrect, and that, as a matter of fact, it was not made here. Later, the Department again informed me that it was being made here. It is difficult, under the circumstances, to know just where we stand. Messrs Leslie and Company, of Perth, the engineering firm I have referred to, asked for a refund of duty paid on one of these machines, and received the reply from the Department that in view of the fact that the machine could be made here, no refund of duty could be allowed, and the duty had to be paid. On the statement that the machine could be made here, Messrs. Leslie and Com pany wrote to the firm of Weymouth Proprietary Limited on the 14th September, 1921, in the following terms: -

Dear Sirs,

We have inquiry for portable electric arewelding plant, 300 amp. capacity, complete with control panel, stabilizer, and operator's tools.

Our supply current is alternating, 3 phase, 40 cycles, 440 volts. ' The plant is intended for welds up to 4" x 4" on locomotive bar frames and other heavy welding.

We shall be glad to have your price for same d/d f.o.b. Melbourne, together with particulars of efficiency guaranteed in current used per lb. of metal melted. State diameter of wire used, also time required for delivery.

Yours faithfully,

Leslie and Co.

The reply to that letter by Weymouth Limited, the firm that I was advised was making these machines, was dated 19th September, and to this effect -

Dears Sirs,

We thank you for inquiry of the 14th instant for portable arc-welding plant.

As we do not handle this sort of work, we are taking the liberty of passing your inquiry on to Messrs.Robt. Bryce and Company, of this city, who specialize in arc-welding plants.

Yours faithfully,

Weymouth Ltd.

Communication with Robt. Bryce and Company in due course elicited the information that they are merely agents for a London firm supplying these electric welding plants. After all this correspondence, I received the following letter from the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), still asserting that these machines are made in Melbourne: - 15th November, 1921.

Dear Senator Lynch,

Adverting to the personal representations and to the letter of the 5th October addressed to you by Messers. Leslie and Company, Perth, with further reference to the admission of electric welding plants under Tariff item 174, free or 10 per cent., I desire to inform you that inquiries made at Weymouths Limited disclose the fact that their letter of the 19th September, addressed to Messrs. Leslie and Company, did not clearly set out the situation as far as they are concerned. It appears that Weymouths Limited manufacture these plants, both direct and alternating currents, and that Messrs. Robert Bryce and Company act as their distributing agents. " It appears."

Senator Wilson - Is not that a good way out?

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