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Wednesday, 17 August 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - Sub-item d relates to plate and sheet iron, and in this connexion the proposal of the Government is to enormously increase the duties over those recommended by the Inter-State Commission in 1916.

Senator Russell - These are deferred duties, and will not come into operation until 1922. In the meantime, the manufacturers are receiving a bonus.

Senator LYNCH - Is it not the intention to impose the duties in addition to the bonus?

Senator Russell - No ; when the duties are imposed, the bonus will be discontinued.

Senator LYNCH - Plate and sheet iron is required in the manufacture of all kinds of articles, including galvanized iron, and at this juncture we have to seriously consider the position in which subsidiary industries will be placed if unnecessarily high duties are imposed upon this material. The operations of manufacturers will be seriously interfered with, if not altogether retarded, if we impose high duties, because the cost of the raw material which they have to work up will be unduly high. Unless we are very careful, we will be making a false step in imposing high duties on this material.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - There is only a difference of 7s.

Senator LYNCH - There is always the same excuse - that it is only a little one; but these so-called small sums amount, in the aggregate, to a good deal, and prevent manufacturers producing articles at a reasonable price. As values recede, these fixed duties will become higher than at present, and, although the duty after 1st January, 1922, is set down at 65s. per ton, when values recede the Protective duty will be much higher. This particular proposal should receive very careful consideration, because our decision as to the duty to be imposed on this material will largely affect the question of the duty upon galvanized iron, which is to be considered later. The proposal of the InterState Commission was a British preferential duty of 40s., with a special proviso that the duties should not operate until the manufacturers were 'in a position to guarantee to supply a large proportion of our requirements.

Senator Duncan - The honorable senator has a strong belief in the recommendar tions of the Inter-State Commission.

Senator LYNCH - I am adhering to the recommendations of that body in this instance, because they were made when the war was in progress, and when the members of that Commission had an opportunity of considering the disadvantages confronting us in troublous times. The duties we are asked to impose would considerably enhance the cost of raw materials required by subsidiary industries, and are based on visionary arguments, which have not been supported by facts. I am positive that they are not based upon the applications which have been made by men engaged in the industry, because we have had the evidence of at least one man who said that he did not require protection by the imposition of duties. I propose to move -

That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item D, British, per ton, 55s.

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