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Wednesday, 31 August 1921

Senator DUNCAN (New South Wales) . - I do not wish to speak at any length upon this subject. I am delighted that the Minister (Senator Pearce) has moved to1 request a reduction in the duty on these films, in the intermediate and general columns, to>1½d. I am glad that the Government are willing to concede this meed of justice to a very considerable section of the Australian public. Last year picture theatre patrons paid in taxation under the Entertainments Tax Act no less than £258,000, and, therefore, it is up to this Committee to show them, some consideration, or at least to refrain from deliberately adding to their burdens. The Government are doing the right thing in this matter in the best interests of the majority of the people. When the Tariff was increased in another place, and when the position was given over to the importers of picture films, because the Australian production of films is not sufficient for Commonwealth needs, the importing firms comprising the Picture Film Combine increased rates to the picture showmen throughout Australia by 12½ per cent, upon each film each time it went out, and as a result they have been reaping enormous profits from the Australian people. It is about time the ramifications of this Combine and its effect upon the people were inquired into. When the Tariff is finally disposed of, I hope the Government will make a thorough investigation into the moving picture industry with a view to insuring that patrons of picture shows shall not be delivered hand and foot into the grip of this powerful Combine, which is operated largely from the United States of America. It is interesting in this connexion to know that none of the picture theatre concerns that are under the segis of the Combine pay anything in the way of income tax in Australia, although their profits are enormous, and they take tens of thousands of pounds in profits out of Australia every year. I am glad the Minister has seen the wisdom of taking this course of action, and I hope the request will be carried unanimously.

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