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Wednesday, 17 August 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- The essential features . to those engaged in the industry are regularity of mesh, a perfect double crimpandan even selvedge, which can only be obtained by using wire of the finest quality. I have been informed that wire termed 16 or18 gauge, as the case may be, has, upon examination, been found to be uneven in gauge throughoutthe coil, which is disastrous to an even texture inweaving.

SenatorBolton. - Does the honorable senator know of any other firm using this wire?

Senator PAYNE - I understand that there are four firms in Melbourne, and some in Sydney.

Senator Russell - What wire are they using?

Senator PAYNE - The Australian product; but not for the best class of work, in which evenness of web is essential. The wire must be evenly annealed, and be even in temper. 'The users here claim that the British wire is more even in temper than that produced in Australia.

Senator Keating - It will improve.

Senator PAYNE - But what will happen while that improvement is taking place ?

Senator Duncan - Is that a typical sample of Australian wire?

Senator PAYNE - I understand it is. It was taken from a quantity that has come to hand. I understand it is necessary that the wire shall be free from surface roughness and scale, and these qualities are necessary in order to get anevenness of web in the wire gauze. The Australian wine at present placed . on the market is defective because of the unevenness in gauge, 'the annealing is unsatisfactory, and it has a decided tendency to harden, which 'is fatal to the production of a satisfactory finished article.

Sitting suspended from6.30 to 8 p.m.

Senator PAYNE - I was referring to some of the difficulties of those engaged in the industry of wire weaving in using Australian wire. I have made it quite clear that I am not entering upon 'a campaign against any primary industry of Australia. I should like to seethem all as successful as possible. At the same time, one must have due regard to the importance ofa numberof small industries that have materiallyassisted in the development of this country. This particular industry has been productive of very, good results indeed, inasmuch as the article turned out here can, so far as quality is concerned, hold its own with the imported article. It has been pointed out to me that the. greatest difficulty has been experienced in the use of Australian wire in connexion with the manufacture of. the better, classes of. wire gauze. Australian, wire is used very largely in the. manufacture of other classes of wire gauze. My remarks in this connexion refer entirely to the manufacture of wire gauzes similar to the . samples I' have here, for which fineness and good finish are essential, so that those who use them, for the recovery of metals from ores for instance, may be' assured! that, they are employing the best possible material for their purpose.

Senator Russell - A good deal of that work is done in Melbourne, mostly by hand, and to fill special orders.

Senator PAYNE - Before the war almost the whole of this work was done by hand looms. The war imposed heavier responsibilities upon Australian manufacturers to meet Australian requirements, and' necessitated the extension of' their operations and the installation of power looms. I understand that to-day. it is contemplated increasing the number of power looms operated in Melbourne.

Senator Russell - Is not: the material to which the honorable, senator is referring covered by item No. 159, '"Wire n.e.i., also, woven wire measuring over 40 holes to the lineal inch," which is free from Great Britain and otherwise dutiable at 5 and 15 per cent. ?

Senator PAYNE - No. I am dealing with the finished article. I want to. protect the manufacture of the finished article. I wish to describe as clearly as I can the difficulties of the industry as pointed out to me when I visited one of the. factories at" work, and because of which it has been found necessary in the manufacture of the better classes of wire gauze to use imported wire. In the first place, the Australian wire is found in many instances to be uneven in gauge. Then the annealing, which is responsible for the temper of the wire, is not satisfactory. It is necessary that a machine working the wire shall work uniformly, and if the annealing is not satisfactory it cannot work evenly, because there is a bigger strain when one thread is being worked titan when another is, being worked. Then there is a distinct, ten dency to hardness in thes Australian wire, and thesurf ace roughness, due to scale, is exceedingly destructive of plant. Because of these defects in Australian' wire, it is impossible to obtain' a. regular mesh, which' is- fatal to successful manufacture. There is always the risk of a breakdown because of the unevenness of the gauge, since a special strain; at a particular time is very likely to cause a breakdown. Then the scale, to which I have referred, destroys the reeds and heddles, and gets into the bearings. Reeds, worn and cut, were- shown, to- me in the framework of a loom, and I was assured - by the operatives working the loom that this wearing and cutting of the reeds, was caused' by the scale which came from the wire- that was used. This scale also injures the heddlers; which carry the wire under and over as the shuttle passes to and fro. These results from the use of Australian wire have been under notice for a considerable time,, when English wire was not available. My informant tells me that it is , chiefly the finer ranges of wire gauze that are affected by the use of Australian wire, such as the samples I have here, which are of 22-inch, 24-inch, and 18-inch gauge, and so on. In the Tariff as first introduced there were no such duties as those imposed by the schedule' as we- have- it before us to-night. I take it that very careful calculations were made as to the duty which would make the impost on wire proportionate to the duty placed on- the raw material of the basie industry of iron! smelting-. As first introduced', the duties proposed were 52s. per ton on British importations, and 90s. per ton. on foreign importations. These duties- haive been replaced as the result of amendments introduced by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) in another- place by ad valorem duties of 25 per cent. British, and 35 per cent, foreign. I have figures here to show- the difference between the rates first proposed on wire and those which we haye to consider tonight. I find that as against the duty of 52s. per ton first proposed on wire imported from Britain, the duty of 25 per cent, now proposed on 16-gauge wire amounts to £9 2s. 9d. per ton. Such a duty isi altogether too high in. view of the fact that this wire is imported only for manufacturing purposes. When our wiremanufacturing industry produces a wire suitable for the manufacture of the finer classes of wire gauze, our manufacturers will use it, and a duty upon it might then be considered. In connexion with previous items, the Minister has been contented to propose a duty to become operative within a certain time.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap - The honorable senator's time has expired.

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