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Wednesday, 10 August 1921

Senator SENIOR (South Australia) . - Some honorable senators seem to be under the impression that the only thing the stearine manufacturer does is to manufacture stearine. They quite forget that there is a wide difference between the origin of the wax and stearine. The raw product of paraffine wax candles has to be imported.

Senator Duncan - So has copra.

Senator SENIOR - That does not alter the point I wish to make. Stearine is not imported, but is produced from tallow, an Australian product. In the manufacture of stearine for the Australian candle maker the process does not stop there, but glycerine is also produced to the extent of, approximately, 1,000 tons annually. Glycerine is used in the manufacture of high explosives, and as we may need it some day for that purpose, the maintenance of the stearine candlemaking industry is necessary for the protection of Australia. Again, I understand that another by-product is used in the manufacture of woollen goods, an industry which we are also anxious to develop. Yet all these considerations are swept aside simply to maintain the moulding of candles from paraffine wax. Are we blind? Senator Lynch has talked about our accepting without question what is placed before us; but are we to close our eyes to the facts I have mentioned - facts which are not disputed? The stearine industry pays something like £250,000 per annum in wages; can the same be said of the paraffine waxcandle industry?

Senator Lynch - The stearine industry expanded under the old duty of1d.

Senator SENIOR - Senator Lynch forgets that, owing to the establishment of the stearine industry here, Australia was able to supply the Old Country with glycerine to make explosives; he is blind to the fact that it was on a by-product of the stearine industry that a profit was made during the war, and attributes the success of the industry to the duty. We have to look at things as they are, and not as they were ; and any one who wishes well to Australia must support the Government on this item. What is the object of Protection? Is it not to protect and establish industries that will consume raw material produced in Australia ?

Senator Drake-Brockman - The honorable senator and some others seem to think that the object of Protection is to prohibit imports of any sort!

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Will Senator Senior define what Protection is?

Senator SENIOR - I cannot define two things at once, but Protection means the establishment in Australia of such industries as will work up the natural products of the country.

Senator Lynch - High-sounding phrases !

Senator SENIOR - No, I am stating good solid facts. By way of illustration I may say that when I was a lad I sold soap, introduced into this country from Liverpool before the local article was produced in any quantity, at from1s. 9d. to 2s. 3d., and, in some cases, 2s. 6d. a bar, according to weight; but just before the war I saw similar weights of soap, manufactured in Australia under Protection, sold at7½d.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I have known South Australian soap to be sold in Broken Hill cheaper than the price at which it was sold under Protection in Adelaide.

Senator SENIOR - That is easily accounted for. There was an export of candles and soap from South Australia to New South Wales, not at a paying price, but simply to keep the machinery going and the hands employed.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - We in New South Wales got the benefit, and we had no objection.

Senator SENIOR - This export trade made all the difference between keeping the machinery going and dismissing the hands.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Was that not dumping?

Senator SENIOR - I have answered the point raised by the honorable senator ; and, in any case, it does not apply to the present question. The stearine industry will use the raw products of Australia, and become a key industry, supplying useful products for other industries; and that cannot be said of the paraffine wax industry. In a hot climate the paraffine wax candle is not to be compared with the stearine candle.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then no protection is required!

Senator SENIOR - It is urged that paraffine wax candles are useful in mines ; but I think that, if we could arrive at a consensus of opinion amongst miners, it would be found that they never take a wax candle into a hot place, simply because it bends over. All these arguments against the duty are born of lack of knowledge and experience.

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