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Thursday, 14 May 1936

Senator BADMAN (South Australia) . - This item consists of the bare passage - "By omitting the whole of subitem b (fourth time occurring)." But a reference to the memorandum setting out the 1933 and 1936 tariff rates shows that item 242 refers to glass. Last week I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs a number of questions concerning our trade relations with Belgium. Australia purchased considerable quantities of glass from this country prior to the establishment of the industry in the Commonwealth under a protective tariff of 75 per cent. in addition to primage duty. Last year imports of glass from Belgium were valued at £93,000; our total imports from that country amounted to £477,864. In contrast to these figures, our exports to Belgium during the same period were valued at £6,080,381. All these amounts are in

Australian currency. In view of the fact that on several occasions during the tariff debate the adverse trade balance with various countries, particularly the United States of America, has been raised, it seems to me remarkable that Australia is not endeavouring to increase its business with a country with which its balance is so favorable. Belgium exports to us only about one-fourteenth of the value of the goods that Australia sells to it; yet the Commonwealth Government is prepared to continue to squeeze it in respect of its glass trade with the Commonwealth. Exports of Australian barley to Belgium have decreased from80. per cent. to 51 per cent. of the total value of our exports to that country. The Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs supplied to me particulars of the rates of duty that have applied to plain clear sheet glass imported from Belgium, and I am gratified to note that there is a difference between the 1933 rates and those how operating. The Minister stated that the rates of duty on imported plain clear sheet glass are 2s. per 100 square feet British preferential tariff, and 4s. per 100 square feet general tariff, which are equivalent on the 1934-35 values to 8.5 per cent. ad valorem British, and 24.1 per cent. general tariff. Primage duty is now 10 per cent. Exchange varies according to the country from which the glass is imported. I compliment the Government on having recognized the value of our trade relations with Belgium, and reduced the duty on glass imported from that country. Honorable senators should remember that Belgium is one of the principal buyers of Australian barley, particularly South Australian barley. I hope that the Minister will afford the committee some information of the Government's policy in regard to imports of glass, and the negotiation of a trade agreement with Belgium.

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