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Thursday, 18 August 1921

Senator RUSSELL (Victoria) (VicePresident of the Executive Council) . - Senator Elliott has intimated that he wishes to submit a request upon this item, but I believe that he will accept the. proposal which I now put forward. I move -

That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties on aluminium angles, bars, plates, rods, sheets, strips and tees, not polished, plated, decorated or further manufactured, on and after 1st January, 1922, ad . val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.

When the Tariff was under consideration by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) he decided that if the articles mentioned in this sub-item could be made in Australia, he would readily protect them, but through some oversight this was not done, and a firm which had already commenced the building of its. factory in accordance with the Minister's assurance that protection would be afforded to. it, drew his attention to the omission. He then promised that he would have the matter rectified in this Chamber. The rolling of aluminium sheets had not previously been undertaken in Australia to any extent, but at the urgent request of the Government the Australian Bronze Company at Sydney decided to erect a rolling mill for the purpose of rolling these sheets in order to place other manufacturers in the position of being able to obtain their supplies of raw material in Australia instead of being dependent on outside sources. Their mill is now in course of erection, and will be completed shortly. Should they not be in a position to supply the requirements of others by the 1st January next, the date for the coming into operation of this duty will be further extended.

Senator Senior - Is it proposed to manufacture aluminium goods direct from the ore or from the imported block?

Senator RUSSELL - Blocks, cubes, ingots, pigs, scrap and granulated aluminium, mass items which are not manufactured in Australia, that is to say, aluminium in the rough, will be admitted free. There is now being erected in Sydney a factory with the necessary plant to produce aluminium, and, in view of our experience during the war, we must' recognise the importance of encouraging such an: enterprise. There were occasions during the war period when it was exceedingly difficult to obtain what were relatively small things, although of great importance to various industries and essential to the progress and defence of the. country. We made inquiries through the Board of Trade for aluminium for the use of the Defence Department.

Senator Senior - Aluminium is very much used in the construction of aeroplanes.

Senator RUSSELL - Tes. There is every prospect of the - local industry proving successful. At the present time deposits of bauxite of the necessary quality are being developed near the Leeuwin.

Senator Elliott - I accepted the Minister's proposed request on the understanding that the deferred duties would come definitely into operation on 1st January next, , but I gather from the honorable gentleman now that it is proposed to still further postpone their coming into operation.

Senator Gardiner - I' call attention to the want of a quorum. [Quorum formed].

Senator RUSSELL - Senator Elliottasked for an increase of the duties on plates under the general Tariff, which would apply to imports from Germany. I do not know how they were brought in, but quite recently aluminium plates bearing inscriptions in German have been seen in Melbourne. That is an indication that some goods at least are being brought in illicitly from Germany.

Senator Keating - They came in through Switzerland, no doubt.

Senator RUSSELL - This item relates to an industry which, on national grounds, should be encouraged, and there is no reason why it should not prove a success.

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