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Tuesday, 19 May 1936

Senator ARKINS (New SouthWales) . - I fail to see why it is necessary for the display of so much heat on the part of honorable senators from Queensland.

Senator Collings - Heat?

Senator ARKINS - I cannot tell whether it is heat or passion merely by the sound of the honorable senator's voice. Both Senator Collings and Senator Brown have said that we have refused to allow the tobacco-growing industry to get on its feet. Does the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) say that the manufacturers of tobacco in Australia are not going to take the advantage which is given to them by the excise of 4s. 2d. per lb. ? They would certainly be foolish if they could obtain tobacco that suits the Australian taste, which would give them an extra 4s. 2d. per lb. Is there any necessity at this stage to adopt a complicated system of imposing, as it were, an increased tax on the actual amount of tobacco used in blending?

Senator Collings - I did not propose to do that.

Senator ARKINS - No, that is so, but Senator Abbott did so.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I remind the honorable senator that Senator Abbott's request has been withdrawn.

Senator ARKINS - Both Senator Gibson and Senator Johnston said that they saw some advantage to the Australian tobacco industry in Senator Abbott's request. I can assure honorable senators from Queensland that if we can cultivate a market for the particular brands of tobacco in which Australian leaf predominates, I am willing todo all in my power to bring about that desirable result, but the incentive is already there from the point of view of the manufacturers. Do honorable senators contend that if the great tobacco companies like W. D. & H. O. Wills could cheapen the price of tobacco by 4s. 2d. per lb. they would not do so?

Senator Collings - The honorable senator's contention is absolutely wrong.

Senator ARKINS - Certain brands of cigarettes marketed in Australia to-day arc sold in packets containing fourteen cigarettes for 6d. Popular brands contain ten to the packet. Why should a man buy a packet containing only ten cigarettes for the price which would procure him a packet containing fourteen? Thereason is obvious; better quality tobacco and higher priced imported tobacco are used in the more expensive cigarettes. It is ridiculous to say that we are preventing this industry from getting on its feet. I cannot believe that the manufacturers would not take advantage of the differentiation that now exists. The tobacco companies know exactly what the public wants. Larger profits are made by the tobacco companies than by any other industry in the world, and the tobacco combine in England and Australia manufacture some of the best tobacco. Anybody who has been in France where there is a government monopoly of tobacco must have realized that wonderful blends are produced in British and Australian factories. I desire to see the use of Australian leaf increased, but I do not think that that can be achieved by the adoption of the complicated method which has been proposed. The Government is already assisting the Australian industry by providing a direct advantage of 4s. 2d. per lb. Encouragement would he given to the local industry, if the public would increase its purchases of tobacco containing a large proportion of Australian leaf.

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