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Wednesday, 10 August 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I heartily support the request submitted by Senator Lynch, and am fully in accord with the position he has put as regards our rights as a legislative Chamber. Apparently whatever amendments are made in the House of Representatives to the Government's original proposals are expected to be agreed to in this Senate with every " i " dotted and every " t " crossed. I am not prepared to take up that attitude. Beyond the fact that Senator Lynch has established that his request, if agreed to, will make the duty on paraffine wax what the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) made it in March, 1920, after giving the matter ample consideration, is the further fact that, so far from the stearine industry requiring more protection, and being ruined ifwe do not increase the duty on wax, during 1920, when the duty was Id. per lb., the importations of wax were comparatively small, and our manufacturers of stearine 'were not only supplying all the home requirements, but were also able to export 2,385,000 lbs. of stearic acid, an essential part of stearine.

Senator Russell - There have been no exportations during the last six months.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am speaking of what happened when the duty on paraffine wax was only Id. per lb. I am not prepared to swallow every catch amendment made in the House of Representatives in connexion with this Tariff. In supporting the honorable senator's proposal I am supporting the Government's original proposal to increase the duty on paraffine wax from Id. to 1 1/2 d. per lb. I hope that the Government will agree to this request, because it will, as Senator Lynch has so fairly pointed out, mean an automatic settlement of a proper ratio between the duty on wax and that on wax candles. If this is not done, the small candle-making industries of Australia will be crushed out of existence, and the business will be confined to a powerful combination of candle-makers. This might or might not be detrimental to the public generally, but it would certainly be unfair to the small competitors of this powerful combination.

Senator Keating - Do any of the small candle-makers make stearine?

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - No, with the exception of one Sydney firm. The manufacture of stearine in any quantity entails the erection of a very expensive plant, costing from £20,000 to £30,000, which renders it impossible for some of the small manufacturers to engage in the business. I appeal to the fairness of honorable senators, and ask them to look all round the question, and, as Senator Lynch has said, preserve a fair balance between these duties.

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