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Thursday, 14 May 1936

Senator E B JOHNSTON (Western Australia) . - I notice that the general rate for cut glass is 60 per cent., although the Tariff Board, in its last report, recommended that the rate should be 50 per cent. The remarks of the board upon this particular article are equally applicable to the next sub-item of glass, for which the board recommended a duty of 40 per cent. general tariff, but the Government has retained the rate at 50 per cent. I move -

That the House of Representatives be requested tomake the duty sub-item (b), general, 50 per cent.

I refer the Minister in charge of the bill to the remarks of the Tariff Board on this item. Its report, dated the 15th April, 1935, stated-

The Tariff Board is of the opinion that rates of 15 per cent. (British preferential tariff) and 50per cent, (general tariff) on cut glassware are all that are desirable under present conditions, with 35 per cent. (British preferential tariff) and 70 per cent. (general tariff) were exchange at par, its main grounds being -

(a)   These rates, when taken in conjunc tion with natural protection and exchange protection, form a very substantial measure of total protection;

(b)   The group of companies manufactur ing glass in Australia has been able to take a considerable amount of excess profits ;

(c)   Cut glassware is a line where a wide variety is essential, and while the Australian company is manufacturing a range to meet all general demands, and deserves a reasonable measure of protection thereon, the choice of purchasers should not be restricted by unduly high rates of duty.

The rates found reasonable by the board represent a reduction in the existing rates of 3¾ per cent. under the British preferential tariff and 10 per cent. under the general tariff, but represent an increase of 10 per cent. in both the British preferential tariff and general tariff rates were exchange at par. It is considered that, owing to the relatively high value of cut glassware, the fixed rate of1s. per dozen under the general tariff in the existing item would nut apply to these goods.

The glass industry is one of the most heavily protected industries in the Commonwealth, and, in my opinion, the duties on imports should be reduced. The Tariff Board has so recommended. Therefore, I feel justified in asking the Senate to request the House of Representatives to reduce the duty to 50 per cent.; that figure is still very high, but it is the rate recommended by the board.

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