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Wednesday, 31 August 1921

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) .- I move-

That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, sub-item (c) (2) (b), intermediate and general, per lineal foot, 1½d.

When I previously submitted this proposal I did not think it necessary to take up the time of the Committee in giving reasons for the imposition of a duty upon kinematograph films, because I knew that honorable senators were aware that I was merely seeking to make the rates of duty what the Government originally proposed they should be. It was another place which increased them. When I submitted my request, I heard so many expressions of approval that I felt I would not be justified in taking up the time of the Committee in asking honorable senators to do what they were apparently willing to do. The reasons the Government have for imposing a duty are those which have already been put forward by Senator Pratten, and it will save time if I simply state that I concur generally in his views, but do not think that this is a case for a deferred duty. The film-making industry in Australia is very small, but if the Tariff Board, which can watch its progress, should consider that the imposition of an increased duty would be justified they will so represent to the Minister for Trade and Customs, who will take the necessary action to bring the matter before Parliament.

SenatorPRATTEN (New South Wales) T3.40]. - The best elements in the kinematograph trade resent a good many of the insinuations that trusts or combines exist among them. They would welcome the imposition of a deferred duty to come into operation in twelve months time, and that would develop the local industry. Meanwhile, a Select Committee of this Chamber, or a joint Select Committee of both Houses, could inquire into the many apparently unsatisfactory features of the trade. There are bitter complaints about the censorship, about the Americanization of our community by the display of =o many American pictures, and about the display bills, a matter which, I believe, the- recently-returned Victorian Government will attempt- to alter. The Committee could also inquire into the avoidance of taxation alluded to by Senator Duncan. Nothing but good could come out of such an inquiry. '

Senator Senior - Has my memory played me false? I think I have heard the honorable senator holding that matter up to scorn.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I ridiculed the principle of abolishing an entertainments tax that did not hurt anybody, and was badly required for revenue purposes. I also ridiculed the class of pictures shown. I regret that we have no great develop. ment of the industry here ; but if we agree to Senator Pearce's request, the proper logical corollary will be for us to give some covering to the development of the industry here by the imposition of a deferred duty.

SenatorLYNCH (Western Australia) [3.451. - I have pointed out previously that by putting the duties in the general column and the British column on the same basis of Hd. per lineal foot, the Government are really not utilizing the advantage claimed for the previous sub-item that it would enable a bargain to be made with either France or America. Why make the two columns the same? If lid. per foot is not an effective barrier and penalty on the Combin e. I am afraid there is not sufficient protection for the budding genius of this country. Here is an expression of opinion from a' gentleman named Bryson, the representative of the leading Combine or large organization of America, in a farewell speech on leaving these shores: -

Before concluding, I must say that I, in common with other Australian representatives of overseas producers, have received a set-back at the recently imposed duty on film footage. The extra impost amounts to an extra tax of 100 per cent.

It. is quite clear that the inmost of lid. per foot on imported films is not regarded with a friendly eye. There must be an effective duty or none at all. If the duty is too high, it only means that we shall have to pay more for our pastime, and there ought to be a difference made between the two columns. I disagree with Senator Pratten in his reference to American practices and institutions. This Parliament ought not to* be forced into regarding in an unfriendly way things American, and I do not think that the country generally would approve of such an attitude.- The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) urges that we ought to cultivate a friendly spirit with the Republic of the West, and such remarks as we have heard are net calculated to assist in that direction. America is bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. Who has not relatives there? Probably not one honorable senator. For myself I know my position in that regard. America is in the same position as we are. It put up with our wool duties, which were raised, though not to an unnecessary level. I deprecate remarks in this Chamber such as we have heard about American business methods and character. I am prepared at all times to se comport myself as to conduce to the cultivation of friendly feeling between what Roosevelt described as this great Commonwealth of the South and the great Commonwealth of the West. I call Senator Pearce's attention to the chance that is now afforded to make a difference between the columns, and so leave room for an arrangement to be made later on if desired with America. I desire to see trade relations established on the most amicable basis, believing that to be good in the case of peoples with affinity of speech and blood. I remind the Committee that when Senator Bakhap proposed, and I seconded a motion in favour of our having a representative at Washington, the idea was not well received.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap - I ask the honorable senator not to make more than a passing allusion to that subject.

Senator LYNCH - I shall only say that that proposal subsequently was accepted by the Government as representing a wide policy, and as a result we have a representative at Washington to-day.

Request agreed to.

Item agreed to, subject to a request.

Item 321 (Spectacles, &c.) : and item 322 (Spectacle cases) agreed to. division xii.-- hides, leather, and rubber.

Item 323 (Hides and skins) -

Senator Sir THOMASGLASGOW (Queensland) [3.52]. - I move -

That the House of Representatives be requested to add the following new sub-item : - " (c) Hides, green, per lb., British, interme- diate and general,1d."

I find that during the eleven months up to May, 1920, there were 154,689 green hides imported into the Commonwealth, while for the previous twelve months there were 50,000 imported. These hides have been coming from New Zealand into Australia during a glut in the local market. That is owing to the fact thatthis local market is a little better than the London market, inasmuch as the exporters in New Zealand are not called upon to pay the freight of1d. per lb. to England. Honorable senators are well aware of the conditions in the meat industry at the present time. Export is absolutely stopped, and the industry altogether is in a very bad state. Anything that we can do to preserve for this industry and its by-products the local market I ask honorable senators to assist in doing by means of this request. If this request be accepted, it will not mean an increase in price to the consumer. Last year 1,000,000 hides were exported from Australia. If the whole of the duty were passed on, it would mean only about 2d. in a pair of boots. Green bides in process of tanning lose from 25 per cent, to 30 per cent., and consequently this request will mean no more than1½d. per lb. on the latter, provided the whole of the duty be passed on. I contend, however, that, owing to the fact that we export hides largely, the duty will not be passed on, and I ask honorable senators to support the request so as to retain our own local market.

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