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Tuesday, 16 August 1921

Senator WILSON (South Australia) ; - Reference has been made by Senator Gardiner to the time that has been devoted to the consideration of. subitem a,which he. has declared to. be. relatively unimportant from the . point of. view of the monetary, considerations involved. I desire, however, to draw the attention of honorable senators to its very great importance as. shown by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene). When introducing, the Tariff in another place, lie said, in dealing, with the division relating. to metals and machinery -

Honorable members will see. that the whole, division to which I am now. alluding has been practically recast. In former Tariffs- pig iron has occupied a place about the middle of the division, and has been free of- duty; we have made it the first item of the division and dutiable at 20s., 30s., and 40s. per ton. Honorable members will see as we come to discuss the items how the iron and steel duties generally have been based upon this initial duty. I shall be able to show them as we proceed from item to item how we have built upon it right through the division.

This quotation from the Minister's speech will serve to show honorable senators the important bearing which this item has upon the whole of the iron and steel duties. The argument that the extra duty on the pig iron used in an implement would not be more than about 2s. is quite beside the point. What we have to consider is the effect which this item will have on the rest of the division. It sets a standard for the whole division, so that in determining what the duties shall be in respect of it we shall virtually settle the remaining rates.

Senator Russell - That remark applies to only the first three sub-items.

Senator WILSON - Believing, as I do, that the duties in respect of various items in this division should be reduced,I am not going to vote for the duty as proposed on British imports under sub-item a, and so place myself in the unf ortunate position of having set a standard upon which I cannot go back. My votes on the rest of the items in this division will virtually be determined by my vote on this item.

Senator Lynch - This governs the lot?

Senator WILSON - That is so.

Senator Russell - It does not govern the lot, but it is the starting-point-.

Senator WILSON -It is the basis on which the whole of the division is framed.

Senator Russell - The first three subitems relate to pig iron, ingots, blooms, and billets, which are the basis, of manufactures.; but honorable senators are free to do what they like with the remaining, duties.

Senator WILSON - But, according to the honorable senator's own statement, and that, of his colleague (Mr. Greene) in another place; sub-item a sets a. standard for the whole division. Senator Guthrie has given- us -figures showing that the local, industry can make a profit and yet- sell pig iron for. less than the price at which it can be imported. His figures show that the price of the Australian article is about 13s. per ton less than the imported pig iron.

Senator Russell - Prior to the introduction of this- Tariff, pig iron was free.

Senator WILSON - The Broken Hill Proprietary Company have supplied a statement showing, that the cost of imported pig iron plus the duty, of £2 per ton under the general Tariff is £10 15s. 6d. per ton. The duty under the British preferential Tariff is only £1 per ton, sothat imports from Great Britain would be selling at£9 15s. 6d. per ton, whereas the Broken Hill Proprietary Company areselling their product at £9 2s. 6d. per ton. I would stress the importance of the vote we are about to give, and I, earnestly ask honorable senators to retain their right tomake such reductions as they may deem necessary in the later items of the division. I, like many other honorable senators, will be compelled to vote for the request, because it is in keeping, with my idea of a Tariff suitable to the producers of this country.

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