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Wednesday, 10 August 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I desire to raise the question of whether it would not be wise to impose a duty on tea imported from countries outside the Empire. Senator Gar diner, who is so keen on giving preference to Great Britain, will, if he moves in this direction, have my support.

Senator Russell - Duty is imposed only on tea imported in packets.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes. Tea in bulk is admitted free; but there is no differentiation between that grown within the Empire and that produced outside the Empire. The latest figures show that nearly one-half of the tea we import is grown outside the Empire - principally in Java - and the balance in Ceylon or in India. The bulk tea imported into Australia in 1919-20 consisted of about 29,000,000 lbs. in weight from Ceylon and India, of which Ceylon supplied over 20,000,000 1bs., and about 26,000,000 lbs. in weight from Java and China, of which Java supplied over 25,000,000. lbs. If we are to have a Tariff under which reciprocal trade arrangements may be made, con- . sideration might be given to the imposition of a small duty of½d. per lb. under the intermediate Tariff, and1d. per lb. under the general Tariff on the bulk tea imported from countries outside the Empire. From the figures I have quoted honorable senators will see that there is far more tea than is generally supposed being imported from foreign countries as compared with Ceylon and India.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - What quantity is imported in packets?

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Considerably less than one-hundredth part ofthe total importations. I am not now referring to tea in packages, but to sub-item b, " Tea, n.e.i., free," under which all tea in bulk is imported. The free importations aggregate over 50,000,000 lbs., as against about 300,000 lbs. imported in packages, and dutiable at1d. per lb. Nearly half of the bulk tea imported comes from Java, and I submit for the consideration of the 'Committee that some small duty might be imposed on tea in bulk imported from countries outside the Empire. My suggestion is in accordance with the principle of preferential trade within the Empire, and its adoption would help reciprocal arrangements to be made with countries outside the Empire should that course appear to be advisable.

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