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Wednesday, 9 June 1926

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Newlands - I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the item before the committee.

Senator OGDEN - We are now dealing with electrical appliances, and as I pointed out in my second-reading speech, we should encourage the use of power in order to assist the development of electric power. By imposing high duties on electrical equipment we are increasing its cost, and consequently discouraging the use of electric power. I attempted to point out that, by the use of electrical power in America, the output of each workman was nearly double that of his fellow in Australia. Every thousand pounds spent in industries in America returns practically double the amount obtained in Australia, not because of the extra skill of the American workman, but because the Australian manufacturer has not yet gone in for the scientific application of machinery or for that organization which will enable his employee to compete successfully with his American competitor. I should like to see electrical appliances admitted into Australia under the rates of duty charged in progressive and prosperous New Zealand. That dominion permits appliances used for the generation or distribution of electricity to be admitted free; but in Australia we discourage the use of electrical power by charging high rates of duty on these appliances. If I am told that the manufacture of these appliances is a , great Australian industry my reply is that it employs about 3,600 persons, whose wages approximate . £620,000 per annum. In view of the fact that those who develop the power and use electrical appliances are compelled to pay just on £1,000,000 in Customs duties, I think it would pay us to pension off the electrical workers. Under this sub-item, switches, fuses, and lightning arresters are to be charged rates of duty as follows : British 35 . per cent., intermediate 45 per cent., and general 50 per cent. Some of the small switches are made in Australia, but most, of those required for high voltages are not manufactured commercially or successfully here. The same applies to fuses, and I am assured by the general manager of the hydro-electric department in Tasmania that he cannot rely on the local product, and purchases the whole of his equipment from overseas. There are very few lightning arresters made in Australia. As most of them are covered by patents, it is very little use attempting to manufacture them here. The old rates of duty were : British 27½ per cent., intermediate 35 per cent., and genera] 40 per cent.

Senator Grant - Does the honorable senator propose to remove those duties altogether ?

Senator OGDEN - I should have no chance of doing so. No matter what we should like to do, we have to bow to expediency. My proposal is to revert to the old rates of duty, and my purpose is to encourage the development and use of electrical power. Industries are not made by high tariffs. They are made by organization, skill, and the application of scientific and mechanical devices. We cannot expect the Australian workmen, poorly equipped with electrical power, to compete with his brother in America.

Senator Barnes - If we do not give him a chance to do anything he will always be poorly equipped.

Senator OGDEN - An industry which has to be subsidized to the extent of a million pounds a year is unsound.

Senator Sir Henry Barwell - Then why not propose to wipe out the protection altogether?

Senator OGDEN - I wish I could do so; but, realizing that I cannot, I content myself with moving -

That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, sub-item b, ad. nal. 27* per cent. British; 35 per cent, intermediate, and 40 per cent, general.

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