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Thursday, 28 July 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) . - I am very pleased that Senator Elliott has brought this matter under the notice of the Committee. We must, in adjusting the Tariff, see to it that we shall not place a heavy burden on those who are so unfortunate as to require special remedies to secure their restoration to health. I am not in a position to move a request for an alteration of the duty proposed, but I suggest that this item should be postponed in order that a full inquiry may be made into the position as stated by Senator Elliott and myself. I am not able to estimate the value of my authority; but, from the information I have received, kelene, under the old duty, was supplied to the hospitals at 2s. 6d. per tube prior to the war, and during the period of the war, owing to the good offices of those supplying it, the price was increased to only 3s. per tube, while under the new Tariff it is asserted that the article cannot be supplied to hospitals to-day at less than lis. per tube. Our hospitals are doing very fine work, in which it should be our pleasure to assist as much as possible. Although it is admitted that kelene is being manufactured locally, it is stated that the local manufacturers supply only the one size to the hospitals, and 200 per cent, more has to be paid for it than was previously paid. We should ask ourselves whether it is reasonable to give such a large measure of protection as will practically prohibit the importation of a ,drug which, if imported at a reasonable duty, can be supplied at a moderate price for the benefit of suffering humanity, while the protection proposed will serve only to build up an industry which at most can employ but very few people. In common with Senator Elliott, I have received the information that since kelene was introduced into Australia seven years ago, it has been used in hundreds of thousands of cases, and in every case the purity of the drug has been proved by the fact that not a single accident has been caused by its use. If this be a fact, it should be sufficient to induce the Minister to agree to a postponement of the item with a view to considering whether the great increase in the duty is justified. Unless the Minister is in a position to refute the statements which have been made, sub-item d of item 10 certainly requires further consideration.

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