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Wednesday, 23 November 1910

Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland) . - It appears to be absolutely necessary that we should urge the Government tomake a definite statement. I understand that the Department dees not know how todeal with the difficulty I raised a few moments ago ; and that is that a certain class- of machinery - wheels - is being brought into this country.

Senator Findley - My proposal deals with axles.

Senator CHATAWAY - I am aware of that; but that does not prevent me from discussing the question of wheels.

Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.

Senator CHATAWAY - In this instance we are putting a tax on an unfinished article, and letting the finished article come in duty free. In other words, wheels are admitted free if they are complete, and we put a tax upon them if they are incomplete. The result is that certain foundries have machinery lying idle because it pays the proprietors better to introduce the finished wheels rather than import unfinished articles and complete them in the foundry. Bogie wheels are used on the Queensland railways over 30 inches in diameter, unless I am very much mistaken.

Senator Findley - I am informed that those wheels are only 16 inches in diameter.

Senator CHATAWAY - The Minister must mean 16 inches in radius, not in diameter.

Senator Findley - This information comes from the Queensland Government.

Senator CHATAWAY - Some time ago I made inquiries of the officials of the Department, and they were not able to make to me the statement that has now been made by the Minister. I do not think that I have the slightest hope of remedying what is a gross anomaly in respect of this item, but if the Minister is prepared to say that at the first opportunity the anomaly will be remedied, I shall be inclined to allow the item to go as it stands. I wish to repeat that Mr. Tudor, when Minister of Trade and Customs in the first Fisher Government, Sir Robert Best, the Minister in the Deakin Government, Mr. Deakin himself, and later Mr. Fisher, have been interviewed on this point. It is a real anomaly. Certain wheels are used in enormous numbers in Australia, and especially in Queensland. It pays men who have the machinery for putting on the flanges and polishing up these wheels, to import them in the finished state, and allow their machinery to lie idle. I quite understand that the Department does not know much about the matter, but every Queensland official who has been interviewed on the. subject has said, " What an absurd thing; this is quite an oversight and ought tobe corrected."

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