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Wednesday, 6 May 1936

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Postmaster-General) . - In respect of all the items which have been under discussion, and this sub-item in particular, the Tariff Board's recommendation regarding the British preferential rate has been given effect. Concerning the sub-item which Senator Johnston desires to amend, the board recommended that . the general tariff should be 40 per cent.; but the Government, with a view to facilitating negotiations for trade treaties, decided to introduce an intermediate rate of 37½ per cent., and to make the general tariff 483/4 per cent. A considerable quantity of the goods covered by item 170 comes from the United Kingdom. For instance the total importations under one heading for 1934-35 were valued at £18,566, of which £17,793 represented goods from that country. There were certain clearances at free rates in respect of goods which could not be obtained here. Last year goods from the United Kingdom to the value of £7,039 were cleared under that branch of the tariff, as against only £179 in respect of foreign countries. The intermediate rate is not so high as that recommended by the Tariff Board for the general rate. The proposed rates represent reductions of 10 per cent. British and 6¼ per cent, general. A comprehensive inquiry as to the rates of duty considered necessary on metallurgical machinery and appliances was recently undertaken by the Tariff Board, which reported that the mining industry generally is being well served by the local heavy engineering industry in regard to both price and quality of product. The board's report stated that local manufacturers are equipped to supply the general needs of the mining industry, and that competition between manufacturers is sufficient to ensure reasonable prices in most lines. In the case of winding engines, however, the board reported that a higher protection than that required for most other mining machinery is justified. The inquiry showed a divergence of opinien as to whether the local manufacture of highpowered winding engines was economically sound. Although the board deemed it inadvisable to impose a limit on the size or capacity of the machine to which protection should be given, it pointed out that, in the event of a winding engine beyond the capacity of local factories being required, it could be dealt with under departmental by-law, and admitted at concessional rates of duty. Some winding engines have been admitted under by-law. The duties with which the committee is now concerned are in the main those under the British preferential rate, and I repeat that the duties in the schedule are those which the Tariff Board recommended. As already explained, an intermediate rate has been inserted in the schedule, whilst the general tariff has been increased by 83/4 per cent.

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