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Tuesday, 30 August 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - After what Senator Pearce has said, I propose proceeding with this matter so far as to absolutely exhaust it. It is one of the most astounding experiences I have had in connexion with the Tariff, when we hear honorable senators talk of relativity-

Senator Keating - That is a very difficult doctrine!

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is one of the most astounding experiences, when we hear honorable senators talk of relativity in regard to the timber duties, and then, when we come to the most important item, so far as relativity is concerned, in connexion with our home box-making industry, to find the Minister agreeing to an increase of1s. per 100 feet on timber, and leaving the anomaly greater than ever. I can tell the Minister, from my own persona] knowledge, that it was recognised in another place that these imported box timbers were left in a very anomalous position ; and if we do not rectify the anomaly I hope it will be rectified elsewhere. Let me state the position of the box-making industry in my own State, which employs 1,000 people, and has invested in it a capital of £150,000.

Senator Pearce - Are all these people employed in making boxes?

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes, in Sydney alone.

Senator Pearce - I doubt that.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Here is a copy of a letter sent to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) by the Austral Box and Timber Company Limited, of Pyrmont, Sydney, when the timber duties were raised in another place -

Honorable Sir,

Timber Cut to Sizes for Making Boxes.

It was with consternation that we noticed in the next Customs duties which are to be brought before the House that no alteration was suggested in the Tariff on. the item No. 293b. Under this item we consider the Aus - tralian box and case manufacturers have no protection against imported articles. Prior to the war timber cut to sizes and length for making boxes was imported to a considerable extent. It whs cut to exact lengths, widths, and thicknesses, and in some instances already branded with the necessary advertising matter to suit the particular manufacturer for which they were imported, and in this state no work in the Commonwealth was required on this timber except the actual nailing together. The boxes in snooks cut to sizes pay a freight less than the timber to be convertedinto boxes.

These boxes in shocks were produced from waste ends of timber in various countries, and exported to Australia, and such waste can be sold at a much lower price than the sellers obtain for deals or timber from the local box- makers, who have to re-saw and makecases of the timber.

Senator Pearce - Made from waste in foreign countries?

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