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Wednesday, 31 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I am sorry the Minister (Senator Pearce) has agreed to increase the duty. The importation of spokes from America has been enormous, because our spotted gum, which is a substitute, is a heavy one, and is responsible for the difference between a light and heavy vehicle; and for the sarven wheel, for which spokes are required, we have nothing to equal the imported timber.

Senator Pearce - If the honorable senator refers to the previous sub-item, he will see that hickory in the rough can be imported on a 5 per cent, basis; this is dressed hickory.

Senator GARDINER - I know that. Hickory spokes imported in the rough have merely to be placed in a turning lathe to be made smooth; and the imposition of these duties assists only the big city firms, which have suitable machinery installed, and which employ very little labour. It is merely a matter of having up-to-date machinery. I do not object to a duty of 15 per cent.; but it is ridiculous for the Minister, in an offhand way, to say, " I shall accept 25 per Cent." He is playing into the hands of the coachbuilding trade, and assisting only firms who have the particular machinery installed for the dressing of spokes, instead of making them import, and thus prevent huge profits being made. Practically the whole of this work is done in the city by a few firms, whilst in country- towns of a population of 3,000 or 4,000 there are two or three small men who have to struggle -without such assistance. The proprietors of city factories have the business iu their own hands, and, consequently, are able to make the users pay higher prices, whilst those in the country have to fight if they desire to obtain any consideration at all. During recent years, prices have increased by 300 per cent., and the imposition of these'' duties is only benefiting those in the cities who have up-to-date plants.

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