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Friday, 1 May 1936

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) . - The Minister has just stated that the previous rate of duty was 2d. per lb. Now it is 10s. a cwt., which represents a solid reduction.

Senator Badman - The general tariff is still 2d. per lb.

Senator COLLINGS - I am not interested so much in the general rate as I am in the rate governing our actual competitors in this market. My concern is that the protection shall not be so low as to enable overseas competitors to compete .savagely with the Australian industry, and eventually strangle it.

Senator Hardy - The price for English glucose in Australia is £36 a ton, as against £32 12s. 6d. for the Australian product.

Senator COLLINGS - I am well aware of that. This business is not quite so simple as it appears to be. Maize is very largely grown on the Atherton Tableland, in Queensland, and I conceive it to be my duty to see that the interests of the growers are not injured. It is not my intention to move a request on this item, because I know that the Government has the numbers to carry the rate of duty specified; but I impress on the committee that these industries of growing maize and manufacturing glucose are worth-while Australian enterprises. Glucose is manufactured in two of the most thickly-populated States - New South Wales and Victoria. In New South Wales, Maize Products Proprietary Limited uses between 500,000 and 600,000 bushels annually, gives employment to over 300 fully-paid hands, and pays in wages approximately £60,000 a year. I agree entirely with Senator Leckie, that the Minister should give us an assurance that the situation will he watched closely, because, as the honorable senator explained, if the price for Australiangrown maize rises to any extent, the present margin in favour of Australian glucose will disappear.

Senator Guthrie - It would be a good thing if the price for maize increased.

SenatorCOLLINGS.-Of course it would; but, if it increases to any extent, the existing protection of 10s. per cwt. will not be sufficient. We have also to remember that the maize used by overseas competitors in the Australian market is grown by black labour.

Senator Badman - The bulk of it is grown in Argentina.

Senator Guthrie - Much of it is produced in South Africa.

Senator COLLINGS - Wherever it is produced, we may be quite sure that it is not grown by white labour, and the workers are not paid Australian rates of wages, nor do they enjoy Australian standards of hours and conditions. This morning we had a long and tangled discussion about the rate of exchange, which was raised merely for the purpose of giving a backhanded slap to Australian industries. I hope that the situation will be closely watched, in the interests of both the producers ofmaize and the manufacturers of glucose.

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