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Thursday, 3 April 1941

Senator LECKIE (Victoria) (Assistant Minister) . - in reply - Honorable senators opposite need not be apprehensive as to the effect that this measure may have upon the local tobacco industry, because the interests of the growers are to be protected. The present production of Australian leaf now totals only 5,500,000 lb. and the total consumption is about 26,500,000 lb. Therefore an excellent market is available for the whole of the Australian leaf that can be produced, and there is little danger of injury to the local industry. The price of Australian leaf is now 25 per cent, higher than formerly, and the effect of this legislation may even be to assist the local industry. The lowest duties at which Southern Rhodesian leaf would be imported would be 4s. 3d. per lb. for the manufacture of tobacco, and 6s. 5d. per lb. for the manufacture of cigarettes. These rates will apply only if the Southern Rhodesian leaf is used in conjunction with the prescribed minimum percentages of Australian leaf. Failing incorporation with the required quantity of Australian leaf, duties of 5s. 9d. and 7s. lOd. per lb. respectively will be chargeable. As the price of Australian leaf will be about 2s. 6d. per lb. this year, there is no danger of its being displaced by imported leaf.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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