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Wednesday, 2 June 1926

Senator CRAWFORD (QueenslandHonorary Minister) . - I am prepared to supply all the information I have. On the previous item, Senator Payne did not give me an opportunity to make an explanation before expressing his own views. The present proposal is to alter the whole item. It has a subitem (b) providing for duty on artificial flowers and sprays, trails or posies, at 4s., 4s. 6d., and 5s. per dozen; or at the ad valorem rates of 30 per cent., 35 per cent., and 40 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty. Under sub-item (a), all other artificial flowers, plants, fruits, leaves, and grains, of all kinds and materials, paid duty at the rates of 30 per cent., 35 per cent., and 40 per cent. It is now proposed to make one item, and charge 35 per cent., 40 per cent., and 45 per cent. on all artificial flowers, irrespective of the form in which they are put up. The present item has caused endless worry and trouble, both to the importers and to the department, in the examination and classification of the various styles that have been imported. Some years ago, the department, under great pressure, agreed to a fixed rate on artificial flowers when made up into sprays, trails, or posies, and Parliament ratified it. The department, however, was unable to be consistent with business people and say what was a spray and what was a posy. Much ill-feeling was engendered owing to the endless trouble in determining the classification of the various lines and practically every importation was subject toexamination and query. It was decided to take the first opportunity which presented itself to revert to one ad valorem rate for all classes of artificial flowers, and compensate to some extent for the loss of the fixed rate by giving a slightly increased ad valorem duty on all lines. Therefore, whilst the local manufacturer may lose some of the protection on the posies, trails and sprays, he will get an additional 5 per cent. ad valorem duty on the whole of the importations of artificial flowers.

Senator Payne - Will the Minister explain where the manufacture of artificial flowers is carried on here, and what advantage is derived in Australia by encouraging the industry?

Senator CRAWFORD - The industry is carried on in Sydney and Melbourne, and employs between 200 and 300 persons.

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