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Thursday, 14 May 1936


Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Postmaster-General) . - Senator Arkins has delivered an informative speech on a most interesting subject. The board's report states that in the manufacture of cream of tartar and tartaric acid,the local industry employs 81 workers, and distributes £23,000 per annum in wages. Prior to the commencement of local production, all requirements were obtained from abroad, the importations in 1927-28 of cream of tartar and tartaric acid amounting to approximately 2,900 tons; but since 1930 the local manufacturer has supplied the bulk of Australian requirements.

Cream of tartar is manufactured from argol, which is a deposit that forms on the inside of vats in which wine is matured. It has been estimated that 1,000,000 gallons of wine matured in wood for two years would produce a deposit on the wood of about tons of argol, and the board considers that about 35 tons per annum would be available from this source.

A South Australian company is engaged in the production of tartrates from the waste products of the wine industry by treatment of the pressed grape skins and seeds. This company, in 1933, was supplying material for about 50 tons of cream of tartar per annum, and estimated that if all the available material in Australia could be treated the yield of tartrates would be only sufficient to produce about 400 tons of cream of tartar per annum. This would represent about 15 per cent. of Australian requirements. In consequence, most of the argol required for local manufacture is imported from the wine-producing countries of Europe, about 1½ tons of 70 per cent. argol being required for use in the manufacture of each ton of cream of tartar. The Tariff Board made a comparison of the costs of argol with United Kingdom manufacturers' selling prices for cream of tartar, and found there was a general conformity in the price variations of the two commodities.

Between 1932 and 1933, the price of cream of tartar in the United Kingdom had fallen by £20 a ton, but a total reduction of only £41s. 3d. was effected in the Australian manufacturers' price, and allowing for the fact that the local producers may not have benefited by the full assumed reduction of overseas costs of argol, it is clear that local prices were kept at an unjustifiably high level. In arriving at its finding the board had. two important aspects to consider: first, that the duty would provide ad equate protection and enable the local manufacturers to earn reasonable profits; and. second, that the cover would not be high enough to permit the manufacturers to continue their past policy of making excessive profits. The board reported that under present conditions a customs duty of1¼d. per lb. would provide adequate protection. In relation to the previous rate of 2d. per lb. the proposed rate of 1½d. per lb. would provide a net protection of £16 6s.11d. a ton of cream of tartar produced. The board also considered that the general tariff rate should be maintained at a rate not more than 2d. per lb. in excess of the British preferential tariff rate.

I understand that the light wines produced in France and Italy yield a higher percentage of argol than wines of the heavier types manufactured in Australia. Probably this is the explanation for the discrepancy in the production of argol in France and Australia, mentioned by Senator Arkins. In 1933-34, the imports of argol were valued at £231,000, of which £180,000 worth came from France, and £40.000 worth from Italy. In the following year the total imports amounted to £140.000. of which France supplied £118,000 and Italy £22,000. The suggestion made by Senator Arkins is worthy of consideration, but I doubt that the scientific chemist is yet so equipped as to be able to solve the mystery surrounding the production of argol.

Item agreed to.

Items 280, 281, 283, 285 and 290 agreed to.

Division 10 - Wood, Wicker and Cane.

Item 291 (Veneers).







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