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Wednesday, 23 November 1910

Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland) - - The Honorary Minister has given no reason for his objection to the request. Seeing that he is a practical printer, I think that he might have endeavoured to furnish a reason which would be convincing to Senator Vardon and others who, like myself, have a slight knowledge of the printing business, that the proposed weight of 80 lbs. per ream has been fixed on a definite basis, which is . understood. As Senator Vardon has pointed out, the particular class of board which is covered by this item weighs 79 lbs. per ream. If -the Government understand anything about the business, why did they not fix the weight at 79 or 78 lbs. ? Why have they adopted a weight to bring the ordinary class of boards within the operation of the duty? Whether it is the Department's intention or not, I am not prepared to state, but the Government are getting at every little country newspaper in Australia which ekes out a livelihood by doing a certain amount of small jobbing work. Many a small newspaper, which is issued once a week in a back-block place, depends largely for its existence on the production of weigh-bills, receipt books,, delivery books, and so forth. This item covers the class of board which is used for that work. Apparently the Government propose to put up the cost of production in that regard. Of course, if they can prove that it will not have that effect I shall vote with them. All I know at present is that a certain class of board produced in Melbourne is not the board used for the production of these books in country offices. I have a strong suspicion that the object of the proposed alteration is to give a little extra benefit to a particular industry in Victoria. I have received a few documents from master printers on this subject. Protests have been sent in from small country^ printing offices in various parts of Australia; urging that the Government should not alter the present method of dealing with strawboard, leatherboard, greyboard, and so forth. I believe that the Government are making a mistake. Apparently they are giving way to some local influence which has been brought to bear upon them, and are striking at the very heart of the most profitable part of the business of small country printers throughout Australia.

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