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Thursday, 10 June 1926

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- I should like to know if insulators of various descriptions are covered by this item.

Senator Crawford - Yes; but, of course, item 415a will apply to any insulators that are not manufactured in Australia.

Senator PAYNE - The manager of the Hydro-Electrical Department of Tasmania has communicated with me, informing me that the experience of his department is that certain insulators of a heavy type, able to withstand the heavy load required to be carried on big transmission lines, must be imported, and that it has been heavily penalized by having to pay duty on them. They are not made in Australia. He has pointed out that duty amounting to over £2,000 has had to be paid on insulators for the transmission line to the north-west coast of the State, and that the Customs Department, while admitting that the articles could not be manufactured in Australia, refused to sanction their admission duty free under item 174.

SenatorCrawford. - That is the reason for having the new item 415a. Those insulators could not be admitted free under item 174, but they will be allowed in free under item 415a.

Senator PAYNE - Can the Minister tell me why they could not be admitted free under item 174 1

Senator Crawford - Because they were not machines. That was an opinion furnished by the Crown Law Office.

Senator PAYNE - Item 174 does not deal solely with machines. It covers "machines, machine tools, and appliances, as prescribed by departmental bylaws."

Senator Sir Henry Barwell - It is a matter of legal interpretation. The word " appliances," as used in item 174, really covers appliances relating to the machines referred to in the item.

Senator PAYNE - But what will be the position of the Hydro-Electric Department of Tasmania?

Senator Crawford - The new item 415a will remove the difficulty.

Senator PAYNE - It will remove future difficulty, but I am. interested in whathas actually occurred.

Senator Crawford - We cannot cover the past.

Senator PAYNE - If by a legal interpretation the word " appliances " occurring in item 174 has been held not to apply to appliances such as insulators, surely there should be some way of remedying the grave' injustice which has been done to the HydroElectric Department of Tasmania, and of removing the penalty imposed on it.

Senator Cox - Does the honorable senator want a refund for Tasmania?

Senator PAYNE - If it was the intention of Parliament, as I believe it was, that duty should not be paid on these insulators, and if by a legal technicality redress cannot be granted, surely some step should be taken to compensate for the injustice done.

Senator Crawford - Steps arc being taken to prevent a recurrence of what the honorable senator terms an injustice.

Senator PAYNE - The intention of Parliament was expressed in item 174. The item would appeal to any one as cowering appliances used in connexion with any industries carried on in Australia which could not be furnished by an Australian manufacturer.

Senator Crawford - That was the opinion of the Customs Department until the Crown Law Department gave an opinion to the contrary.

Senator PAYNE - That is exactly the point I wish to make. The fact that the Customs Department thought that item 174 would apply to these insulators shows that it believed that it was the intention of Parliament to admit them free of duty if they could not be manufactured in Australia. We learn now that the opinion of the Customs Department was overridden by a legal interpretation of the word " appliances." It is well to have the facts stated, so that if a wrong has. been perpetrated it may be removed at the earliest possible moment. I accept the explanation of the Minister that special provision has been made in the new schedule to cover present importations.

Item agreed to.

Item 240 agreed to.

Item 242 (Glass)-

By omitting the whole of sub-item (b) and inserting in itsstead the followingsub-item : -

(   b ) Sheet, viz: - Plain, clear .

And on and after 1st July, 1026, per lb., British,1½dperlb., or ad valorem, 45 per cent. ; intermediate, 1½d. per lb., or ad valorem, 55 per cent.; general, 2d. per lb., or ad valorem, 60 per cent. ; whichever rate returns the higher duty."

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