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Tuesday, 28 August 1973
Page: 454

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! I am sure the opportunity will arise to have that matter clarified. What I am putting to the honourable member for Berowra is that this is not the occasion to do so.

Mr EDWARDS - That perhaps, is true; but what is important from the point of view of people in the business community is that in so many of the dimensions of the environment in which they operate they are proceeding today with a degree of uncertainty - indeed, alarm - that is quite unprecedented. I referred earlier to the fact that in the Budget at least the question of the investment allowance was cleared up, but we have the uncertainty to which I referred earlier this afternoon in regard to the export incentives and now we have a further element of uncertainty in the critical area of protection, whether afforded as in the case of cellulose acetate flake by a bounty or as in other cases by a tariff.

In his second reading speech, the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry (Dr J. F. Cairns) states:

This is in conformity with the TariffBoard suggestion that the bounty be continued until the Board has examined this and other acetyl products in its 1975 general review of the chemical Industry.

What I am trying to press on the Minister is that he should make clear whether that statement and the statement of the" Treasurer to which I referred earlier imply of represent a clear acceptance of the policy initiated by the previous Government to undertake a progressive review of the tariff.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! What I now would like to press upon the honourable member for Berowra is that that is as far as he will be able to pursue this topic.

Mr EDWARDS - Thank you very much, Mr Deputy Speaker. I think that if that purpose is achieved - if, in fact, we can clear up that uncertainty - then my efforts will not have been in vain.

Mr Peacock - Have you referred to my statement on the illegality of the tariff cut?

Mr EDWARDS - My colleague the honourable member for Kooyong reminds me of his statement earlier on the illegality of the tariff cut. I did in fact refer to that.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! I have to accept the point made by the honourable member for Hotham that we cannot allow this to proceed further. I ask the honourable member for Berowra to restrict his further comments to the Bill before the House.

Mr EDWARDS - I observe from the second reading speech that the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry proposes to take the opportunity to express the bounty in metric terms. I was commenting earlier on a metric conversion which illustrated a way in which charges or even prices in this context can be subject to a creeping increase. I am not sure - I am sure my colleague the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) would be very keen to know the answer to this - whether in fact this metric conversion involves an increase in the level of protection.

Mr Kelly - That is right.

Mr EDWARDS - The honourable member for Wakefield is very interested in this question. The conversion is from a rate of 4c per lb to a rate of 8.8c per kilogram. Will the Minister, in his comments on this Bill, say whether this is an exact conversion? Perhaps 1 should mention that, in the change from tons to tonnes in relation to the intake of grapes which was dealt with by an earlier Bill, there was an increase of the order of 1.5 per cent. Although I have not a close acquaintance with this industry. I suspect that the degree of protection afforded by this bounty, in today's circumstances of burgeoning international prices for synthetic fibres, would not in ad valorem terms represent an excessive amount. In making these remarks and expressing the hope that in this context the Government is firmly wedded to the progressive review of the tariff, I can say that the Opposition supports this Bill.

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