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Thursday, 18 August 1921

Senator WILSON (-South Australia) . - I am not in agreement with Senator Drake-Brockman's request to reduce the duty in the British preferential column from 35s. to 17s. 6d. per ton. If I may say so, I think there are many items in the schedule which lend themselves to the "greasing of the fat pig." In ninety-nine cases out of one hundred, the heavier steel rails included in subitem a are purchased .by Governments on behalf of the taxpayers of the different States, and .the burden is thrown on the whole community. The lighter rails, which are used for developmental purposes in mining, in vineyards, in wine cellars, and by .the .smaller industries, .are purchased by .private persons, who, under this schedule, will be called upon to pay the higher rates of duty.

Senator de Largie - The small rail can be made so much more cheaply.

Senator WILSON - Not on tonnage. They .are cheaper .only by measurement.

Senator Russell - The cost of iron and steel is determined by weight.

Senator WILSON - Then why not submit duties on the same basis? The Government are asking for the higher duties on the lighter rails.. I think that is wrong. We should strive to secure, as nearly as possible, a scientific Tariff that fair to all. That cannot be said of a Tariff which imposes heavier charges upon the individual than upon the community at large. We have just been told by Senator Payne that in Tasmania rails under 50 lbs. in weight are very exten.sively used. Why should Tasmania be called upon to pay more for steel rails required for its development than is charged to other States using rails weighing an extra 10 lbs. In Western Australia, in light sandy country lighter rails can be used, and why should Western Australia be charged 10s. per ton more in the shape of duty on steel rails than South Australia, where, to cope with the heavy hills traffc, 100-lb. rails are used? I should be very sorry to be understood as desiring to do anything which would prevent the progress of the iron industry in Australia. Rather than do so, I should prefer to err on the side of supporting a high duty to assist its progress. The discrimination in the duties imposed on steel rails', according to their weight, will not influence the development of this industry in New South Wales, and it is my intention to move a request to make the duties the same on sub-items a and b.

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