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Thursday, 8 March 1928

Senator KINGSMILL (Western Australia) . - It appears to me that the main point in this argument is being lost sight of. According to Senator .Carroll and the report of the Tariff Board, these fortunate manufacturers of glucose were given an increased duty on the ground that they had to pay from 5s. 7£d. to 5s. 10½d. a bushel for their raw material. Apparently, that is not the present, the normal, or the average price of the maize that is used in the making of glucose. Therefore, the duty was given under a misapprehension. There is a very great deal of merit in Senator Findley's suggestion that the maize-growers do not look after their interests sufficiently well, and that if they did they would insist upon what I may without offence call a fair division of the spoils. When the price of maize drops below 5s. 7£d., Maize Products Proprietary Limited gets the advantage of the duty, and is enabled to pay a dividend at a very high rate. That is not fair.

Mr GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is it a fact, as suggested, that they are paying a high rate of dividend?

Senator KINGSMILL - I am informed that the rate is 14 per cent.

Mr GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not think they have paid a dividend for some years.

Senator KINGSMILL - Instead of paying the 5s. 7^d. or 5s. 10^d. which would entitle them to additional protection, they are paying only 3s. 9d. a bushel for the maize which they purchase. We are not in a position to argue this matter with any very great degree of certainty, because we have not in our possession accurate data respecting either the normal or the average price of the maize that is supplied to Maize Products Proprietary Limited. When we have that information, we shall know whether or not this is a just claim. As their claim to greater protection is based on a price which does not exist, and which very seldom exists, they have been treated rather too generously.

Senator Ogden - It is based on a price of 7s. a bushel

Senator Guthrie - It has never been 7s. a bushel. When it was being imported from South Africa the local price was 5s. 9d. a bushel.

Senator KINGSMILL - That strengthens my argument that the price of the raw material, to meet which this duty was imposed, was very much exaggerated. I intend to support Senator Ogden, unless it can be shown that the maize-growers will benefit by an increase in the price that ia paid by these people. They are a large body of men, and undoubtedly have a fairly hard time. I wish to protect them. MacRobertson and Maize Products Proprietary Limited do not need any further protection. The former, partly through his own initiative, but very largely as a result of the extremely kind treatment that has been meted out to him by successive governments, has become a millionaire. I understand that he is able to treat his employees on a most magnificent scale; they are clothed in purple and fine linen, and fare sumptuously. That is somewhat of a contrast to the lot of the maize-growers, who supply the raw material at a lower price than that which entered into the calculations of the Government when this duty was imposed.

Senator Foll - It is refreshing to hear Senator Findley argue that the maizegrowers should organize to force up the' price of their product.

Senator KINGSMILL - I am glad that there is another honorable senator who congratulates and commends Senator Findley upon that attitude. I hope that if the maize-growers get together they will assist their cause as much as Senator Findley's friends have advanced theirs, so long as they do not hold up the industries of Australia in the way that his friends occasionally do. Seeing that this duty was granted because of conditions which do not normally exist, I cannot support it.

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