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Thursday, 18 August 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I point out that Senator Lynch has been quoting a rate in the schedule that is not effective in connexion with this duty. The effective duty will be the 25 per cent. British. I think I showed" conclusively that the average duty under my proposed amendment would probably be about £5 per ton on the British product.' I listened with interest to the statement made by the Minister (Senator Russell). I have no desire to press my requestto a division, but I have a very earnest desire that the industry shall not be compelled to close down. That was my reason for_ bringing this matter before the Committee. It is quite obvious, I think, tha£ if this industry is giving away 2d. per sheet to the makers of iron' that' is used to roll the sheets, it is giving an equivalent of 2d. per sheet to the zinc producers of Australia, in both cases, as an extra price. The two together amount to more than the duty proposed by the Government on galvanized iron; Instead of camouflaging talk about establishing industries, we ought to speak the truth, and admit that the galvanized-iron industry cannot live under present circumstances.

Senator Lynch - The duty proposed by the honorable senator would work out at 90 per cent, on his own figures.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - My honorable friend is correct in regard to the figures I first mentioned, but since that quotation the price has again tumbled down. Last week I gave a quotation showing that the price of galvanized iron, c.i.f. Australia, was about £20 per ton. I think it will be accepted that this industry will be put in an unfair position by the duties already imposed upon other items.

Senator Lynch - The honorable senator has helped to create that position.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes, most deliberately, with the idea of later on putting the duty on galvanized iron upon a proper basis. If I understood Senator Russell properly the Government are sympathetic towards the continuance of the galvanized-iron industry at Newcastle, and are anxious that those persons who have invested their capital in it - the amount already spent is £400,000 - shall get a fair return from their expenditure, and that if it can be proved that they are not getting this, an endeavour will be made, by means of a bounty or otherwise, to devise some form of help whereby a fair return upon capital invested can be earned by the industry in question. Perhaps Senator Pearce, who, for the moment, is in charge of the Senate, will confirm this.

Senator Pearce - What the honorable senator has sa,-d is, in effect, what Senator Russell said.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is a fair statement, and, seeing that the works will be producing 2.000 tons of galvanized iron per month from October next, I ask the Government not to delay the coming, into operation of the deferred duty too long. However, as the Government are opposed to any alteration in the duties at the present time, and as Senator Pearce has indorsed the statement made by Senator Russell, I ask leave to withdraw my request.

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