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Thursday, 18 August 1921

Senator RUSSELL (Victoria) (VicePresident of the Executive Council) . - I have already pointed out that one of our great difficulties has been our lack of tinned plate, particularly during the war, when we managed to draw some supplies from Wales and America, but only at a price which was ten times the pre-war cost. We had at the time all sorts of foodstuffs badly required by the Allies, but could not send them away because we had not supplies of tinned plate. No matter how much we may desire to help Great Britain as our Motherland, we are not in a position to render her all the help we could give her in- time of war unless we have the tinned plate industry established in Australia. An army travels ' on its stomach; and, though I sincerely hope that .we will never have to face another war, we must look at this matter from our own defence point of view. Naturally, it will need a greater effort to establish this industry in- a country with a population of only 5,000,000 people than is required in a country with a market of 50,000,000. persons ; but a start has already been made in Australia with an experimental plant at Newcastle. The existence of establishments in Australia capable of supplying merchants and packers with tinned plate at a reasonable- price would be of considerable benefit to those engaged in. the export trade.

Senator Payne - To enable us to compete with other parts of the world, the tinned plate would need to be supplied. at a reasonable price.

Senator RUSSELL - Certainly. Many advantages would be derived from the tinned plate industry.. For one thing, it would provide a local market for our tin miners. Likewise there would be a good market for the manufacturer of tinned plates, because we. produce sheep and mutton which could be tinned for export, and we could also increase our export of tinned fruits, and, possibly, engage in the trade of tinning preserved vegetables. We have only a limited market for tinned plate, and. I do not think we can hope to develop a big export trade ; but if by means of this duty we can establish an industry that will supply our own requirements and provide us with reserves to meet emergencies, we shall do well. I ask honorable senators not. to treaty the item as affecting only one trade. It is of the utmost importance to the packing and canning industry. With ample supplies of tinned plate during the war we could have sent away much larger quantities of tinned foods than we were able to do. -I find' that during the war period tinned plates went up to £8 per box of 100 sheets, 28 inches x 14 inches. That was an extraordinarily high price, and it was sufficient practically to keep us out of the world's markets when we had to compete with supplies of tinned preserves from California and elsewhere. It is estimated' that tinned plate is now bringing about £45 per ton. I shall, confirm that information later on, But, if it is correct, honorable senators will recognise that a duty of 76s. per ton is not a very heavy impost.

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