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Wednesday, 10 August 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .-. I move -

That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), intermediate and general,1d.

I asked for the postponement of the item dealing with candles until this item had been considered, because wax is a raw material of candle manufacture, and I have now moved to reduce the rate to that previously operating. Under the old Tariff, the manufacture of wax candles has been proceeding in Sydney, Melbourne, and Hobart.

Senator Reid - How many men does the industry employ?

Senator PAYNE - In the aggregate, probably between 400 and 500 hands. I am informed that one factory in Sydney employs over 100 hands. Years ago, when we started to manufacture wax candles in Australia, few, if any, stearine candles were made here. The bulk of such candles, then known as sperm candles, . were imported, well-known brands being the Roubaix and the Gouda candles. The last Tariff put a duty of 1d: per lb. on wax, and the rate has been increased by this Tariff by 100 per cent. The British preferential rate remains unchanged; but we get no wax from Great Britain. The whole of the wax used in making wax candles comes from Rangoon. Practically the only argument in favour of the increased duty is that the raw material is manufactured by coloured labour there. That argument should carry no weight. It is quite true that it is manufactured by coloured labour ; but it is also true that Rangoon is the only place fromwhich we can get paraffine wax in the quantities required by Australian manufacturers.

Senator Reid - We have good material of our own for the manufacture of candles.

Senator PAYNE - The honorable senator is prepared to look at this matter from only one point of view. I take it, of course, that he is referring to the manufacture of stearine. I admit that we are manufacturing stearine successfully in Australia ; but is it reasonable to impose a duty on raw material so necessary for the carrying on of an established industry in Australia, simply for the purpose of giving another and a larger industry, which has come into existence at a later date, an opportunity of crushing the industry to which I refer?

Senator Reid - But the manufacture of stearine is a local industry also.

Senator PAYNE - The industry for the manufacture of wax candles gave employment to a large number of people before the manufacture of stearine was undertaken in Australia. Is Senator Reid aware of the fact that the majority of the large mining companies in Australia, when inviting tenders for candles, stipulate that wax candles must be supplied? Wax candles are more suitable than stearine candles for underground use.

Senator Crawford - Does the honorable senator say that stearine candles are unsuitable for mining operations?

Senator PAYNE - No. I am simply stating a fact. The majority of the mining companies believe that wax candles are more suitable for use underground, and so they stipulate that these must be supplied. We must deal with facts as they are, and not do anything to destroy such a well-established industry as this for the manufacture of wax candles. Under this Tariff wax candles, which are the product of paraffine wax, can be imported at a price that absolutely precludes the manufacture of wax candles in Australiawith the present duty on the raw material.

Senator Russell - It is 2d. per lb. less than stearine.

Senator PAYNE - I understand that the price of the raw material is 4d. per1b.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is onlyworth 2d. per lb.

Senator PAYNE - Well, I have a memorandum to the effect that a company has entered into a contract for the supply of 400 tons of 135 melting-point wax, at 4d. per lb.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - What date is that information?

Senator PAYNE - July 21st, 1921; so it is only a few weeks, old. This means plus 2d. duty, and practically 2d. for the making, cartoning, papering, and boxing, equal to Sd., which is higher than .the price at which wax candles can be landed in Australia to-day.

Senator Reid - Does the honorable senator mean to say that paraffine wax candles can be imported at a price lower than that at which the local article is sold?

Senator PAYNE - Yes. The policy of the Government and the majority of honorable senators is to give protection to our industries, and in this connexion I claim to be justified in fighting for the retention of the protection hitherto given to this particular industry. The Tariff in this item represents a reduction of 50 per cent, of the protection hitherto afforded the industry. It is our duty to protect the small, as well as the large, manufacturers. I admit that the manufacture of wax candles is a small industry compared with the manufacture of stearine, but it is equally important and therefore deserves every consideration. In the 1909 Tariff the duty was Id. per lb., and the duty on candles at that time was 2d. per lb. Under this revision, the duty on paraffine wax has been raised to Id., while the duty on candles has not been altered.

Senator de Largie - How does that affect the wax?

Senator PAYNE - Does not the honorable senator see that this increase in the duty on the raw material is going to increase the cost of production of candles by Id. per lb. or more?

Senator Reid - But if we put Id. on candles, the situation will be righted.

Senator PAYNE - The tendency throughout the . Tariff has been, not merely to retain the protection hitherto afforded an industry, but to give greater protection. This, I think, is a fair statement of. the position, in view of the discussion on the Tariff items to date. Now Senator Reid suggests that we should put another Id. duty on candles.

Senator Crawford - To maintain the present margin.

Senator PAYNE - That would bc the minimum protection on the former ratio. Nearly every honorable senator has been arguing that unless it can be shown that an inordinate profit has been made by in dustries in recent years we should give them slightly higher protection in order that they may become permanently established; and in connexion with this matter' I show that the protection afforded toone particular industry is being reduced by one-half. We should afford it the same protection, as hitherto given, by reducing the proposal to increase the Tariff on the raw material.

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