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Thursday, 10 June 1926

Senator GUTHRIE (Victoria)

I am not clear about the figures that have been given. As a matter of fact, the information that has been supplied to us in regard to this item is quite insufficient for those who want to give an intelligent vote. I should like to know if the glass manufacturing company referred to has given any guarantee to the Government that it can and will make all the glass required for the people of Australia, and that the price will not be increased if the extra protection is afforded. If the Government has received that guarantee from the company, I shall vote for the increased rates. At the first blush, they seem high, but if they mean nothing more than increasing the cost of a cottage by 5s. or 10s., and will be the means of providing additional employment to Australian workmen, I intend to support the Government. I trust the Minister will give the committee further information, particularly on the two points I have raised.

Senator CRAWFORD(Queensland-

Honorary Minister) [4.6]. - No guarantee has been given by the company as to the price that will be charged for Australian sheet glass, but the Tariff Board has reported that it will keep a very close watch upon the operations of the company, and if the prices charged for sheet glass are unreasonable, it will promptly recommend a reduction in duties.

Senator Guthrie - A proposal for the imposition of lower duties would have to come before Parliament.

Senator CRAWFORD - Yes.

Senator Guthrie - That might necessitate undue delay.

Senator CRAWFORD - Not necessarily, as Parliament is in session for about six months in each year. In view of the declaration of the Tariff Board I think we may be certain that the company will keep its prices within reasonable limits. The company has given no formal guarantee that it will be able to meet Australia's requirements, but it is now spending £300,000 on additional plant.

Senator Guthrie - That is beside, the question.

Senator CRAWFORD - I do not think it is. The fact that the company contemplates spending £300,000 is a clear indication of its intentions. The company, which is at present erecting a factory in New South Wales, has declared its intention of erecting similar factories in the other States if the business warrants it. In the meantime it will charge the same price for sheet glass in every State.

Senator Guthrie - But not the price which now prevails.

Senator CRAWFORD - No. But as a set-off against any increase in price a large number of Australian workmen will be given employment, and a considerable quantity of Australian materials will be used as is the case in other protected in- dustries.

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