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Wednesday, 21 March 1928

Senator NEEDHAM ("Western Australia) . - I hope that the duties will not be disturbed. Senator Chapman quoted certain figures with the object of inducing honorable senators to vote against the item.

Senator Chapman - I directed my remarks to only one class of piano.

Senator NEEDHAM - These duties have been imposed for the purpose of protecting the Australian industry. I also intend to quote figures which throw a somewhat different light on the position.

Senator Chapman - I quoted, from the Tariff Board's reports.

Senator NEEDHAM - I also get my information from the same source. The figures show that in 1922-23 the number of upright player-pianos imported from Great Britain was 148; in 1925-26, it was 214; and in 1926-27, it was 291. From Germany we imported 58 of these instruments in 1922-23, and no less than 1,993 during 1926-27. "What has become of the cry which we heard 'a few years ago, that never again should we trade with Germany? Our imports from that country show a substantial increase. America is, of course, our greatest competitor. In 1922-23 we imported from the linked States of America 2,746 player-pianos, and last year, 11,329.

Our total imports of player-pianos from all countries for the three years were: - 1922-23, 2,970; 1925-26, 8,755; 1926-27, 13,679. The bulk of the player-pianos imported from America are inferior in quality, and are sold to the public at prices far above their real value. The Tariff Board states -

The local factories are numerous and efficient..... The Tariff Board is satisfied that the locally-made instrument cannot be sold with a reasonable profit in competition with the imported instrument.

Already there are many factories engaged in the manufacture of pianos and player-pianos in Australia, and they are turning out splendid instruments. The bulk of the material used is obtained in Australia. The Beale factory uses all Australian metal for its frames. It obtains iron from Hoskins Brothers and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company's Steel "Works at Newcastle; the copper wire comes from Metal Manufacturers Limited, Port Kembla; bronze pressure bars from the Austral Bronze Company, Alexandria; glue from the Davis Gelatine Company, Botany; lacquer from the "Woolwich Chemical Company, Sydney; and timber from various Australian timber merchants. "We are encouraging not only the manufacture of pianos, but also the production of practically all the raw material that is used in their construction. The efficiency of Beale's factory cannot be questioned. The capital investments of that company total £650,000, and the wages distribution amounts annually to £160,000. The last report of the Tariff Board discloses the fact that the doubt which at one time existed as to whether player-pianos could be manufactured commercially in Australia, has been dissipated. It says -

The ordinary piano has gradually been displaced by the introduction of the player-piano. An examination of the figures showing' importation into the Commonwealth of even' the last three years reveals the sudden change that is taking place in this industry, and is compelling in a great measure a change-over to another type of instrument than that hitherto universally made. Local manufacturers' of pianos have been responding to the change, and have entered into the manufacture of the new type of instrument in a commercial way.

Some persons at one time believed that the player-piano was not being made in Australia. It is probably the most popular instrument in the homes of our people.

Our factories would not be able to compete with overseas manufacturers, particularly with those of the United States of America, without adequate protection. The proposal we are now considering is that they shall be given that meed of protection, so that they will be able to compete with not only Germany, but also America, which offers the most formidable opposition. Because of the love of our people for music, we should encourage the industry in every way, particularly when it has been proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that exorbitant prices are not being charged, and that a good instrument is being made.

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