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Tuesday, 22 November 1910

Senator GIVENS (Queensland) - In this item it is proposed to increase the impost on a very important article which is largely used in certain work in Australia. It is proposed to place an increased duty upon an article which has not been made in Australia - I refer to steel which has been specially hardened by the addition of chromium. If we turn to the schedule in the principal Act we shall find that the item refers to manufactures of metal n.e.i., and that paragraph b of it reads -

Manganese or chrome steel parts, viz. : - parts made of steel containing chromium or not less than 7 per cent. of manganese, which are used in grinding, crushing or pulverizing machinery, and come in contact with the material ground, crushed or pulverized .... Free.

I wish honorable senators to understand that specially hardened steel containing a percentage of chromium or manganese is admitted free. The Government now pro- pose to limit that provision by inserting after the word " containing " the words not less than 2 per cent, of." So that, under their proposal, manganese or chrome steel parts would have to contain not less than 2 per cent, of chromium to be admitted free. Yet what is the actual position? It is that in the hardening of steel, nothing like that percentage of chromium is used. Would the Honorary Minister be surprised to learn that one one-hundredth part of 1 per cent, of tungstic acid is required to make steel of the hardest and toughest kind? Does he know that the highest analysis of chrome steel now used in the biggest works of Australia is only six-tenths of 1 per cent. I hold in my hand a telegram from the general manager of the Mount Morgan mine - -Captain Richard - who is one of the best Protectionists in Australia. He is known as one of the most ardent Protectionists in the Commonwealth. Every item of machinery which could be made in Australia has been installed in the Mount Morgan mine. The magnificent electric winding engine there was made in the Commonwealth. What does Captain Richard say in regard to this proposal ? He telegraphs -

Seamended Tariff on hand steel crushing machinery parts, we use large amount and analyses show six-tenths of i per cent, chromium. Have never used any containing as high as 2 per cent., and only a few makers in Europe make it. Consider it would be fair to make i[ per cent, minimum, and that any duty would not induce makers to start in Australia, except, perhaps, one who would have monopoly and make his own price. Would remind you that we have always favoured Australian machinery.

I should like to learn from the Honorary Minister whether any persons propose to start this work in Australia, and I would remind him that if they do not, the duty can be regarded in no other light than as a revenue duty. If honorable senators will read the schedule to the principal Act, they will see that it contains the words- " used in grinding, crushing, or pulverizing machinery." The mining industry is the only industry which will use this particular class of machinery. If steel contains more than 2 per cent, of chromium, it will be admitted free ; if not, it will have to pay a duty of i-fd. per lb. Why should people be penalized for failing to put into steel a needlessly large quantity of hardening substances? I move -

That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by leaving out " 2," and inserting in lieu thereof

There will then have to be an appreciable quantity of chromium in steel before it can be admitted free.

Senator Lynch - Let the item stand as it is.

Senator GIVENS - I am willing to meet the Ministry in this matter. Captain Richard says that the steel which is used in the Mount Morgan mine contains only six-tenths of 1 per cent, of chromium. Only a certain quantity of this hardening substance requires to be put into steel. Anything in excess of that quantity is mere surplusage.

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