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Thursday, 1 September 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - It may be a coincidence, but it is a fact, that in every Tariff the discussion on pianos has been a discussion around the name of 0. C. Beale, who is only one of the manufacturers engaged in the industry in Australia. Mr. O. C. Beale is a good Australian who came from Ireland. I hope Senator Gardiner will note that fact. Let us, apart from personalities, examine the position with regard to the Government proposal. In answer to a question which I put on .the business-paper a week or two; ago, in anticipation of this debate, I was supplied with the following official information concerning the importation of pianos from abroad. For the five years ending 30th June, 1910, we imported from within the Empire 6,799 pianos, and from, foreign countries 52.908 instruments, in spite of duties of 30 per cent, and 35 per cent., which had been in existence since 1908. For the five years ending 30th June, 1915, our importations from within the Empire totalled 9,554 pianos, and from foreign countries 60,856, in spite of duties of 30 per cent, and 40 per cent., the increase of foreign importations being 20 per cent., notwithstanding an additional 5 per cent, to the duty. For the five years ending 30th June, 1920, our importations from within the Empire were 8,154 pianos, and from foreign countries, 29,614, Germany during that time having been eliminated as a competitor owing to the war. Again there was a duty of 30 per cent, and 40 per cent, operative. For the year ending the 30th June. 1921, when the duties operating were 30 per cent., 40 per cent., and 45 per cent., there were 6,918 pianos imported from foreign countries, and only 371 from Great Britain. On the basis of the foreign importations last year, we are having an average importation of 35,000 pianos "for a five years period, in spite of the operation of duties which the Government now wish to see replaced. I am prepared to stand by the investigations made into this industry by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) when he originally imposed the duties which we are now asked to restore, and by the investigations made by the Inter-State Commission, whose recommendation was that the rates be just what Senator Pearce is moving to-day. Surely, if we are to pay attention to reports of this Commission, we should do so in this case, especially when their recommendation coincides with what is proposed by the Minister. They recommended on grand pianos a duty of £12 British and £15 general, or 35 per cent, and 45 per cent, respectively, whichever rate would return the higher duty; and on upright pianos, £7 British and £10 10s. general, or 35 per cent, and 45 per cent, respectively, whichever rate would return the higher duty. That is practically what the Government propose to-day. There are six piano factories in Australia, employing 820 persons, and representing a capital expenditure of £750,000. Reference has been made to an advertisement in an American trade journal ; but what a trivial matter to bring into the proceedings of an assembly like this! Surely my friends understand that many progressive business firms advertise in foreign trade journals for the purpose of getting into touch with others, and getting circulars and pamphlets concerning their industry. T have done it myself in respect to businesses with which I have been connected. I" am in a position to say that not one piano has been exported to the United States of America by the firm in question. Yet Senator Guthrie says that an advertisement in a foreign trade publication, that will probably cost 5 dollars or perhaps 10 dollars an issue, costs a fortune, and that some of the firm's reserve profits have gone in this direction. Another statement which has been made is that the certified profits of the Sydney firm do not include shop profits. They include absolutely all profits made by the firm. I know that the firm has been in existence for over twenty years, and that it not only did not make any profits underFree Trade, but even lost capital. The figures quoted by Senator Duncan withregard to its average profits for the whole period are absolutely correct. Senator Plain has replied to the statementabout the two firms in Melbourne, which are employing 600 people. "We all know enough to recognise that these employees are not wholly engaged in dealing with imported pianos. They are engaged in selling music, tuning and repairing pianos, and in all the different ramifications of the piano trade. But the Sydney firm does nothing but make pianos. Another statement has been made in regard to the capital of a Queensland company. In this connexion I can point out that, in reference to a

Tecent issue of shares by Beale and Company, Sydney, and the auditors' certificate, published on the 3rd July, 1920, saying that the firm's annual earnings during the nine and three-quarter years ending the preceding 3rd April averaged considerably more than the amount necessary to cover a yearly dividend on the 100,000 preference shares that were to be issued. If 100,000 debenture shares were to be issued at 8 per cent., the earnings on the ordinary capital of £200,000 would be under 5 per cent., and the statement would be correct. In such circumstances the statement in the Queensland prospectus referred to would be similarly correct. I hope that the Committee will agree to these duties; they are fair and reasonable. I believe in making Australian goods by Australian workers, and I protest against the veryloose statements which sometimes go about with reference to Australian manufactures.

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