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Thursday, 18 August 1921

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap (TASMANIA) - I point out that the whole of the matter covered by sub-item a is at present free.

Senator SENIOR - But the Minister (Senator Russell) has moved in the direction of placing actually higher rates on aluminium angles, bars, plates, rods, sheets, strips, and tees than are provided upon aluminium wire. Aluminium wire can be drawn just as easily as steel or brass wire. If a duty is to be imposed upon ingots and the other classes of product which I first mentioned, where will the raw material come from ? Aluminium ware is rapidlly growing in public use;, more and more domestic articles are being manufactured from that metal. It would he in the best interests of Australia to encourage and foster any and every local phase of the aluminium industry. But, until Australia has reached a point at which the actual raw material is locally produced, the National Parliament should be very careful to insure that importation of supplies of the raw material is not hindered or cut off. I understand that there is a possibility of aluminium being mined and smelted in* Western Australia. If that is the case, I shall be the last to do anything in the direction of discouraging the industry. Aluminium is a mineral which is largely extracted from clay. The delicate process of segregating the metal from its component parts is one which Australia is not likely to be in a position to undertake for some time. That is why the importation of the raw material must be safeguarded.

Senator Russell - Some of the biggest firms in Australia are now making significant inquiries. The Electrolytic Zinc Company, of Tasmania, has been investigating the possibility of extracting aluminium.

Senator SENIOR - But that process of extraction will be undertaken from the imported raw material. There is a national side to the consideration of the item. Aluminium is very considerably used in the manufacture of aircraft. Australia would be fortunate if the local production of raw material could be taken in hand. Until then, however, the ingots must come in free. Further, this Committee would be unwise to seek -to impose higher duties upon the products mentioned in the Minister's request than have been placed by another place upon aluminium wire.

Senator Lynch - Is that wire produced in Australia?

Senator SENIOR - I cannot say that it is, but it could be without difficulty. The machinery employed in connexionwith producing blocks, cubes, ingots, &c, from iron and steel could be used in treating this material.

Senator Lynch - Sub-item b provides certain duties on aluminium wire, and I would like the Minister to say whether this is produced in this country.

Senator Russell - It is being drawn in Australia at the present time.

Senator Gardiner - Is the Minister in a position to supply the information for which I asked concerning, the factory mentioned - the number of hands employed, and the capital invested?

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