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Wednesday, 17 August 1921

Senator RUSSELL (Victoria) (VicePresident of the Executive Council) . - The firm to which I have referred has been making a genuine effort to carry out their contract, but their operations have been delayed because of industrial conditions in Great Britain over which they have had no control. It would not be equity to penalize this firm on that account. This is a suggestion which Lysaghts have made -

There is another suggestion of considerable importance I would like to make, and that is that the duties on black sheets and galvanized iron should come into operation immediately upon being passed by the House of Representatives, instead of as now proposed at 1st January, 1922. In the latter case, the Australian market will, before the end of the year, be swamped with imported black and galvanized sheets from England, the Continent, and America, as every importer in Australia will do his' utmost to have all the stock on hand possible before the duties come into operation. We anticipate by the end of the year tobe turning out black and galvanized sheets at Newcastle at the rate of 2,000 tons a month; but I am afraid that, unless the alteration suggested by me is made, we shall have the greatest difficulty in disposing of our output. Even to-day, when we are only turning out half of what we shall be doing in two or three months' time, we are finding considerable difficulty in making sales.

This matter may be dealt with in another way under the Anti-Dumping Bill, which authorizes the prohibition of undue importation with the object of defeating the intention of Parliament. The Inter-State Commission recommended that the local manufacturers should be given protection when they could guarantee the supply of rolled plain steel sheets. Last year our importations in these lines totalled in value £1,743,590. This is material which the Australian manufacturers are in a position to produce. The galvanizing process itself is quite simple, but hitherto there has been difficulty in the production of the thinner sheets required for tin plate manufacture. Experiments are now being carried out at Newcastle in this direction. If successful, the industry will mean a great deal to this country.

Senator Bolton - Do I understand the Minister to say that it is proposed to amend item 145 by striking out the provision relating to 1st January, 1922, for galvanized iron?

Senator RUSSELL - No. We propose not' to make it operative until that date. We have been asked why it is necessary to fix a date at all for the operation of this deferred duty. Obviously it is necessary to do this in order to encourage those who had the experience and the capital to engage in the industry in Australia..

Senator Payne - Was that the date agreed upon?

Senator RUSSELL - No. It is twelve months later than the original date, but there has been no attempt at evasion of responsibility on the part of the manufacturers. Delay is due entirely to coal strikes, shipping strikes, and other industrial troubles in Great Britain, over which the Australian manufacturers had no control. They are now prepared to defer the date upon which the duty shall become operative until they are in a position to supply Australian requirements, and it is estimated that they will be ready by 1st January of next year. It will be necessary to. take action Under the AntiDumping Bill in order to protect the home market for Australian manufacturers, otherwise there will probably be heavy stocking up on the part of importers of black sheets and similar material, and our manufacturers will be unable to market their produce until all this surplus ma- terial shall have been 'disposed of. I think the power under the Anti-Dumping Bill will be adequate. The industry was established in 1915 at the invitation of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), and after full consideration had been given to the proposal by the Board of Trade, which approved of a system of bonuses. I trust that the Committee will now support the action of the Government by agreeing to the sub-item.

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