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Thursday, 14 May 1936

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) . - I have no personal knowledge of the manufacture of wristlet watches and wa tch cases, but I understand that a considerable volume of business in these articles is done in the Commonwealth. I have here a letter from a company in

Bendigo, Victoria, which manufactures nickelplated watch cases and similar articles, which states -

We are in the position to inform you that according to a letter of the 13th September, 1935, as received by us from a London agent representing one of the leading Swiss manufacturers in reference to their trade with Australia that the following paragraph is taken from this letter: - "Further for your information we would just add that on his last trip to Australia, our representative sold over 150 gross of ladies' and gents' nickel watches ", which you will observe equals 21,600 nickel cases lost to the Australian case-makers, and is the sales of one overseas firm only, and there are many others, as according to statistics, the value of nickelplated, nickel alloy chromium plated and steel watches imported under the present existing duty of 2s.10½d. or 30 per cent, ad valorem amounted to £30,355 for the six months ending the 31st December, 1935, representing approximately 72,000 watches, which means that 72,000 metal cases were lost to the Australian case-makers for manufacture in addition to the loss to the industries which supply the raw materials such as nickel silver, polishing and chromium compositions, glasses and straps, and in regard to the straps we desire to inform vou that straps attached to watches are classed under item 318(a) (4) (a) (1) 2s. 10½d. or 30 per cent, ad valorem duty and 1.0 per cent. primage, whereas if these straps were imported separately the duty would be 50 per cent, and 10 per cent. primage.

According to figures as supplied by the Department of Trade and Customs, the value of complete watches of gold, rolled gold, silver, metal and steel imported was as follows: -

Financial year ending the 30th June, 1933, £11.222: financial yearending the 30th June, 1934, £21,640; financial year ending the 30th June. 1935, £44,576; and for the six months ending the 31st December, 1935, of the present financial year as follows: -

Gold, rolled gold, and silver watches, £14,099; nickel alloy, chromium and steel watches, £36,355, total £50,454, from which you willsee that the present duty on watches of 2s.10½d. or 30 per cent, ad valorem is not sufficient protection for the Australian casemakers.

Honorable senators will see that in three years the value of the articles imported has been more than quadrupled. Obviously this industry is not receiving sufficient protection. The letter continues -

The importation of complete watches for the last six months has exceeded the previous twelve months, and thus the present duty is creating an open market for the Swiss complete watches on account of the low cost that the Swiss factories are able to -produce the cases owing to their low standard of wages compared to the Australian awards, and thereby eventually gain the monopoly for cases in addition to the movements.

During October, 1935, the Cabinet after repeated requests admitted movements free of duty, pending another tariff -board inquiry, but so far this lias had little effect, and we consider that the present duty of 2s. 10½d should be increased to 5s. Cd. in order that the wholesale houses will import their movements, and have them cased into Australian-made cases, as it is on the importation of movements that depends the success of the Australian case manufacturers.

It is not necessary for me to add to that statement, but perhaps the Minister will be able to give the committee some further information of value.

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