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Wednesday, 31 August 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - I was about to remark upon the fact that under this sub-item no difference is made between the duties appearing in the intermediate and general columns. With all that has been said by Senator Gardiner in support of putting ordinary newsprint and glazed paper used for newspaper purposes in the same category, I am in perfect accord. The man who reads a daily paper reads also its weekly edition. I wish to say that I appreciate most highly the action of the proprietors of the Sydney' Mail, Melbourne Punch, and other newspapers in refraining from approaching members of the Committee in connexion with this matter as the Bulletin has done.- I am not looking for advertisement from any newspaper. I want to hold the scales fairly. I do not know what may be the financial position of the proprietors of the Melbourne Punch, the Sydney Mail, and other newspapers who use glazed paper for the illustrated portions of their issues, but they are to be highly commended for not having approached members of the Committee in connexion with this item. I wish to direct attention especially to the fact that if no difference is made between the duties imposed in the intermediate and general columns no opportunity will be afforded to deal with Canada in the way which has been previously suggested from the Ministerial table, although we obtain a great portion of our supplies of paper from that Dominion.

Senator LYNCH - Like Senator Gardiner, I have received a communication from the Sydney Bulletin, which desires to have the special class of paper required for that journal and othersplaced in the- same category as newsprint, but I am doubtful if that coursewould . be quite satisfactory. Thepresent cost of glazed newsprint, we are told, runs from £60 to £.65 per ton, but when prices become normal again the Bulletin and other weekly newspapers, using the some kind of print may not beon the winning side if we do as has been suggested. Newsprint, as we know, was quoted at £9 per ton at port of shipment prior to the war, and the Ministerial proposal for a duty of £2 per ton represents on that figure about 20 per cent. It' would appear, therefore, that the Bulletin, in endeavouring to get its newsprint into the same category as ordinary newsprint, is really seeking a disadvantage rather than an advantage, assuming, of course, that values will become normal in- a few years. - I am, of course, prepared to be guided by the statements made by the Bulletin, which, I presume, understands its own business, and especially when it speaks on behalf of other weekly newspapers using the same high-class newsprint; but I direct attention to the fact that the British preferential duty may be very much of a delusion for this reason : Britain does not supply her own requirements.

Senator Vardon - Yes, she does.

Senator LYNCH - If any other honorable senator had made that interjection, I would have been inclined to doubt the accuracy of the statement. Coming, as it does, from. Senator Vardon, it commands attention; but I speak on the advice of an- authority which takes the opposite view.

Senator Wilson - The- general opinion is that Groat Britain does not supply her own requirements.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Britain imports the raw material, and exports the manufactured article.

Senator LYNCH - Then Great Britain does not produce enough for her own requirements.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Only in the same sense as cotton. Britain imports cotton as a raw material, and exports finished cotton products.

Senator LYNCH - I do not know that the position of cotton is analogous to that of newsprint. Senator Vardon has told us that Great Britain does produce sufficient for her own requirements, and my authority says otherwise.

Senator Keating - This may be regarded as one of the key industries for which it is necessary to import the raw material.

Senator LYNCH - Even that is not admitted by my authority, The Newspaper World of 26th February, which states -

Prior to the war the mills of this country did not make nearly enough to meet even our home demands, much less to provide a substantial surplus for the export trade. We were dependent for about one-third of our supplies upon the mills of foreign countries.

This is an opinion from a reliable source. Therefore, if we give preference to the Mother Country in regard to these duties, it may be used to the disadvantage particularly of our sister Dominion, Canada. The Minister proposes to reduce the intermediate and general Tariffs to £2. He does not propose to make any difference in the duty upon imports from Norwegian countries on the one hand, or Canada on the other. We do not owe anything to Norwegian countries for what they did during the war, but we are indebted to Canada for a great deal, and, in my opinion, we are not adhering to the settled policy of this country by placing Norwegian countries and Canada on the same level so- far as these duties are concerned - The intermediate Tariff should be a basis for negotiations with the object of giving some advantage to our sister Dominion, or, indeed, to any other country, which, in our opinion, deserved consideration. In view of the fact that Great Britain does not manufacture enough for her own requirements-

Senator Duncan - She is doing so today.

Senator LYNCH - I am reciting the opinion of an authority worth listening to. Accepting as accurate the statement that Great Britain does not supply her own requirements, is is conceivable that she must import the raw material and export the finished product. Therefore, preferential treatment in regard to these duties will really represent preference to Norwegian countries.

Senator Cox - But this policy will give a considerable amount of employment to. British people, and in that way it will help her.

Senator LYNCH - Assuming that Great Britain does not supply her own market, the inevitable result of preferential treatment will be to admit material against which there should be a stiff duty. To meet the position I suggest that the intermediate should be lower than the general Tariff. In regard to the general question of imposing a duty at all, unfortunately it is true that at present we are not manufacturing this commodity in Australia, but there is no reason why we should not be doing so in the near future. Every year we are making bonfires of hundreds of thousands of tons of excellent material on our wheat farms throughout tho Commonwealth. This straw, which is being sent up in smoke, is at least as good as the softwoods of the Atlantic coast' for paper pulp, if only we can hit upon the right process to convert the material to its proper uses. There is also some prospect of being able to treat the banana leaves of Queensland plantations, as well as other tropical fibrous products, in the same way. It is discouraging to think that while there is an abundance of the raw material in this country we have not yet devised a means of converting it into paper pulp. I would be opposed to these revenue duties but for the fact that those who are engaged in the industry say that they are prepared to put their hands into their pockets and contribute a substantial sum towards the public revenue. In the meantime I suggest that the intermediate Tariff be reduced to £1.

Senator Elliott - Why not make the British Tariff, £1 ; the intermediate, £2 : and the general, £3 ?

Senator LYNCH - I thank the honorable senator for the suggestion, which I shall accept, as it may prevent the Mother Country from being taken unfair advantage of, and incidentally assist the revenue. I move -

That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (o), British, fi; intermediate, £2; general, £3.

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