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Wednesday, 10 August 1921

Senator RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - The drop occurred during the most critical stage of the war, when the British Government appealed to us to put on the embargo.

Senator Keating - But, according to the honorable senator's own statement, the embargo was not imposed until 1917.

Senator RUSSELL - There were several reasons for the falling off. The freight difficulty had something to do with it. As I pointed out last night, during one stage of the war we had vessels that were too slow to be able to venture into the submarine area, carrying wheat to San Francisco, and Great Britain took over the Atlantic trade with steamers that were in many cases faster than the submarines. During a time of shortage of wheat Great Britain obtained supplies from the Argentine, and we delivered wheat, in slow-going vessels, to the Argentine to make good that which Great Britain had practically borrowed from that country. The conditions operating in regard to freights were adverse to Australia. In the middle of our wheat troubles we were unable, for six months, to. charter a vessel. During the whole of that period of six months the only wheat sent out of this country was carried by vessels of the Commonwealth Line. The demand for foodstuffs from countries within a short distance of Great Britain gave those countries a preference over Australia in the matter of freights. In 1918-19 we imported 351,000 lbs. weight of fancy soaps, whereas in 1919- 20 we imported 594,355 lbs. weight.

Senator Keating - That was not a very big jump.

Senator RUSSELL - But there was a considerable increase in the value of fancy soaps imported f rom £52,581 in 1918-19 to £104,241 in the following year.

Senator Keating - In the meantime the value of soaps had increased.

SenatorPratten. - The Minister might also admit that in the same period there was an equivalent quantity of the same quality of soap exported from Australia.

Senator RUSSELL - If we had provided for the whole of our own requirements we would not have had that surplus for export. In any case, there is no reason why we should not be in a position to export.

Senator Keating - For several years ' before the war our importations exceeded £1,000,000.

Senator RUSSELL - That is so; in 1913 Australia did not manufacture more than 10 per cent, of the fancy soaps it used, but there is no reason why we should' not manufacture all the soaps we require.

Senator Keating - We are making good toilet soaps here, but the price charged for them is very high.

Senator RUSSELL - We are making them, but not a sufficient quantity of them. I have the following figures in regard to the average price of fancy soaps imported: -


Senator Keating - Those would be very interesting figures as illustrating the depreciation in the currency.

Senator RUSSELL - The depreciation in the currency is one of our greatest difficulties, more especially in regard to the importation of iron and steel from Belgium.

SenatorVARDON (South Australia) [10.181 - I have very reliable information that since the imposition of the latest duty on fancy soaps their manufacture has increased considerably in Australia.

Senator Lynch - That is a result which invariably follows the imposition of a high duty.

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