Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Tuesday, 8 June 1926

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - If time permitted I could give reams of evidence to show Senator Reid and others the effect of the past moderate tariff on the gold-mining industry in Western Australia. And if it bore onerously on the industry on that State, it must likewise have borne onerously on the industry in Queensland. I shall quote briefly from the evidence given before the Tariff Board in Kalgoorlie. No names are mentioned. The mines are indicated by numbers, and the suppliers of the mines requirements by letters. In reference to mine No. 1, the following evidence Avas given: -

This mine reports having tested ten sets of five each shoes manufactured by "A," the average life of which was 111 days. The life of the imported shoes of that mine averaged 146 days, or 32 per cent, longer than those manufactured in Australia.

In regard to mine No. 3, the following evidencewas given: -

This mine reports having tested 25 shoes and dies manufactured by " A," with the result that nineteen of the tangs broke off long before the shoes had worn down. The experiment proved a costly one for the mining company.

In regard to No. 5, the evidence was -

This mine states that it has tried several Australian makes of shoes and dies, " A," "B," and " H," with the following results:- "A," which proved to be the best of the three, had an average life of 70 days, against that of 135 days for the imported article, or a difference of 93 per cent.

Here is another example of the increased cost of gold-mining as the result of the industry being compelled to pay exorbitant duties. The experience of- mine No. 2 in connexion with the life of imported and Australian haunch-plates for No. 8 ball mills is described as follows : -

Australian. - Two sets of haunch-plates from "D" average a life of 70 days; three sets of hauneh-platcs from " E " average a life of 79 days. Average life of Australian, 77½ days.

Imported. - Five sets of haunch-plates from " F " averaged a life of 104 days. The imported plates had a life of 34 per cent, longer than the Australian.

In the case of mine No. 4, its experience in regard to manganese steel ball mill spares was that the imported plates had a 35.7 per cent, longer life than the Australian articles. This evidence bears out my contention that even the moderate duty that has hitherto prevailed imposed an extra charge on the mining industry. The following was also given in evidence before the Tariff Board: -

Last year it became necessary for one of the mines to obtain spare runners and blading for its turbines. lt was found that these could not be manufactured in Australia. One of the largest electrical engineering firms of England was then approached with a view of having the parts made there. The firm replied that it could not make the spares except at a prohibitive cost, and stated that it could procure them from Germany. On the facts being placed before the Comptroller of Customs, a permit to import the spares was obtained; but when the turbine parts were landed, the fact that they could not be manufactured in Australia was overlooked, and the mine had to pay duty to the extent of £349. However, this case has been brought before the notice of the department, and it is possible the duty may be refunded.

I do not know the result of the application for a refund, but it is sufficient for us to know that the mine had to pay £349 duty on spare parts. There are thousands of instances in which the mines have been obliged to use spare parts that are not to be compared in quality with the imported article. I should like to be able to tell the reverse story, but I am quoting the sworn evidence given by the sponsors for the industry in Kalgoorlie. There is another instance of the effect of even a moderate tariff on the gold-mining industry. A comparison of haunch-plates, Australian and imported, is given in evidence as follows: -

English -

Set of 40 haunch plates from " F.," cost on mine, £122 0s.11d.

History.- These plates have an assured life of eleven months with regular monthly inspections. We have previously tried Australian spares, with equally unsatisfactory results.

Australian -

Cost on mine, £107 5s. 2d.

History- 14th April, 1924, installed in mill. 29th April, 1924, examined and tightened. 16th May, 1924, examined and tightened. 10th June, 1924, examined and tightened. 4th July, 1924, replaced one broken plate, leaving others cracked. 9th July, 1924, replaced one broken plate, leaving six cracked. 30th July, 1924, all cracked plates broken, haunch plates removed from mill and scrapped.

From the above, it will be noted that the life of the imported haunch plates is about eleven months, and that of the Australian made three and a half months.

I could go on further. There is plenty of evidence to show that men who are " all Australian," and desirous of encouraging Australia's secondary industries, have tried the output of those industries, and been unsuccessful in the use of them. Yet when we ask for the slightest measure of consideration for the gold-mining industry, we are met with a solid vote against us. It is not fair play. It is not playing the game decently with an industry that has done so much for this country. It will be driven rapidly to its doom unless we give it special consideration, not only by remodelling these duties completely, but also in other directions. If we allow this industry that has done so much for us to die, the responsibility will be on us. I propose to press my request to a division. My object is to place this pioneering industry of ours on the level of scores of other industries on which a tariff of 35 per cent, is deemed sufficient.

Suggest corrections