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Friday, 1 May 1936

Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -

That the Senate do now adjourn.

SenatorMcLEAY (South Australia) [3.55]. - I am most anxious that theimportation of asphalt, bitumen, natural pitch, petroleum and bone pitch from America should receive the immediateconsideration of the Government. I direct attention to the prevailing rates of duty - British, free; general, 10 per cent.,. plus a primage duty of 5 per cent. The following table sets out the importations of these materials from various countries : -


I am aware that the Government is considering Australia's trade relations with the United States of America, and I hope that the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) is in a position to make a statement on that important problem. Inthe interests of our trade balance, I suggest that, in view of the possibility of getting cheaper cement, and by an increased demand enabling the works to employ more men, the Government should inform honorable senators whether it would be advisable to increase the rate of duty against imported bitumen, thereby possibly increasing the use of cement in the construction of roads. The South Australian Government, for instance, is entering upon a vigorous road-making policy this year. I do not propose to venture an opinion upon the relative worth of concreteand bitumen roads, for I am aware that engineers differ on this matter. I point out, however, that experts have stated that recent experience in America has proved that concrete roads do possess advantages over bitumen-surfaced roads. I hope that the Minister will enlighten honorable senators in respect of the policy which the Government proposes to adopt.

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