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Thursday, 14 May 1936

Senator GIBSON (Victoria) .- The item under discussion may be comparatively unimportant, because we are dealing with a luxury, article, but an important, principle is involved. The main item is sheet glass, which is used in every home. The important point to consider is that the Belgian market for Australian barley, which has. been worth £360,000 a year, is now practically closed to our growers. I understand that Belgium has served notice on the Government that it proposes to terminate the present trade agreement within a certain period. No exporter can now buy our barley with the expectation of finding a market for it in Belgium.

Senator Duncan-Hughes - We could give Belgium a 10 per cent. reduction of the duty on cut glass bottles. That might change its mind.

Senator GIBSON - We should not jeopardize our market for barley in that country. The people of Belgium buy produce from Australia to the value of about £2,000,000 annually, and every effort must be made to retain their goodwill. We cannot use the whole of the barley which is grown in this country.

Senator Brown -Senator Badman.stated that Belgium has taken less barley from Australia since the making of the: trade agreement.

Senator GIBSON - That was owing to the action of the Scullin Government in prohibiting the importation of glass.

Senator Hardy - If the Government extended to Belgium the benefit of the intermediate rate, would not that get over the difficulty?

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - In fixing the rate in the intermediate column we must preserve the Ottawa margin.

Senator GIBSON - Quite so. Belgium actually took from Australia, in one year, barley to the value of £477,000,but that trade has ceased completely.

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