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Wednesday, 23 November 1910

Senator VARDON (South Australia) - In the Tariff of 1908 this item reads -

Browns, and Sugar (grey, blue, and other tints); Fruit Bag Paper, Candle Blue and Grey Paper, Candle Carton Paper ... per cwt.. (General Tariff), 5s. ; (United Kingdom), 4s.. 6d.

It is proposed to enlarge the item very much. I have no objection to wrapping paper of all colours (glazed, unglazed, or millglazed) being brought under duties of 5s. and 4s. 6d. per cwt., but I want to know why caps, casings, and sulphites arebrought under this item. Cap paper is, as every one knows, very tough, and is used generally for fruit and confectionery bags. I am aware that the duty on bags is raised' by is. per cwt. under this proposal, but I do not see much sense in raising the duty on bags by that amount and increasing the duty on the raw material by about a ton. Cap paper simply comes into competition with the brown paper made in Victoria. Casing paper is sometimes known as glazed rope paper, which is largely used in the making of envelopes and other things.

Sulphite paper is used largely for wrapping, and that, again, comes into competition simply with brown paper. I do not know why we should force people to use these particular classes of paper, when the others suit them a great deal better. Everybody will admit that, as regards bags for confectionery and fruit, cap paper is very much better than the ordinary brown paper. On casing paper, which is largely used for the making of envelopes, the duty is to be raised, while the duty on the manufactured article is to remain exactly the sameSulphite paper is made from pine wood of Norway or Sweden, cut into very small blocks, which are split up into matchwood and then ground up into a pulp, making a very good and strong wrapping paper. The only reason I know why it is brought under this item is because it comes into competition with brown paper, which is made in Victoria and New South Wales. These two mills have all the work they can possibly do, with an honorable understanding that while the mill in Sydney can do the eastern trade, the mill in Victoria can do the trade in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and Western Australia. We on this side do not like, nor does the Labour party like, these combines. Here is one which exists.

Senator Guthrie - Yes ; but even that is better than getting the article imported.

Senator VARDON - Will the Minister say that the manufacturers can supply the whole of the Australian trade, or that they can supply even half of it?

Senator Guthrie - They do not get the chance.

Senator VARDON - They have had the chance under the existing duty. It is proposed to raise the duty on " strawboard lined or unlined, weighing less than 6 ozs. to the unlined sheet of strawboard of 25 by 30 inches " to £5 per ton. The existing duty is 30s. per ton. I ask whether there is any reason or justice in that increase? I have before me an invoice for twelve bales of strawboard, equal to three tons, at £5 2s. 6d. per ton. That is the top market price for years past. The average price f.o.b. Hamburg is £4 15s. per ton. The three tons in question cost, f.o.b. Hamburg, £16 2s. 4d. The freight amounted to no less than £5 6s. 2d.

Senator Guthrie - Stuff is brought from Hamburg to Australia to-day for 12s. 6d. per ton. The importers must have taken a cabin passage for that strawboard.

Senator VARDON - There were other charges also, which brought up the total cost to £24 1 6s. gd. That shows the effect of die present duty, taken in conjunction with importing and other charges. It is quite likely that the freight may have been lower if the goods had been brought out on a sailing ship. . But even taking the average price of ,£4 15s. per ton f.o.b. Hamburg, a duty of £5 per ton is absolutely unjustifiable. I have given the Minister my authority for saying that the makers of strawboard in Australia are satisfied with the present duty of 30s. per ton. So they ought to be. What justification is there for raising the duty to £5 per ton? Is it not outrageous? It simply means that those engaged in boxmaking and using lined strawboard must give up the business. What else can they do? They cannot afford a duty of no per cent, on their raw material. I intend to move that the words " caps, casings " be omitted. Cap papers do not come into competition with brown paper. They are used for quite different purposes. As to casings; a glazed, tough paper is different altogether from a brown paper, and does not enter into competition with brown paper. Casings are used in all the States for making envelopes. First of all, I move -

That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by leaving out the word " caps."

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