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Wednesday, 13 May 1936

Senator HERBERT HAYS (Tasmania) . - The information supplied by the Minister in respect of prices and importations must satisfy every honorable senator that these tools should not be grouped. I suggest that mattocks and picks should be shown apart from hooks and slashers. The Minister stated that only about 15 per cent. of the hooks and slashers are made in Australia. I also point out that the reduction of prices of these tools ranges only from9½ per cent, to 21 per cent., as compared with reductions up to 34 per cent. on picks and mattocks. In view of this fact, the proposed duty on hooks and slashers inflicts a most unfair tax on a very deserving class of people - the pioneers of this country - who are forced to use these tools extensively. Every honorable senator who has had occasion to purchase them for clearing work on farms knows that the prices to-day are in some cases 100 per cent, higher than they were twenty years, or even fifteen years, ago. The ordinary slasher, which is known as the Gippsland hook, costs to-day from 9s. 6d. to 10s., as compared with 4s. 6d. a few years ago. [ suggest that the proposed duty on these tools constitutes a heavy tax on a class of people who should receive every encouragement from the Government through the tariff. I repeat that the grouping of all of these tools is most unfair. I do not desire to move a request, but 1 urge the Government to take notice of the facts I have pointed out, and to reduce substantially the duty on books and slashers.

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