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Tuesday, 23 August 1921

Senator SENIOR (South Australia) . - Senator Lynch based his argument on the comparative cheapness of coal in this country. I desire to call his attention to cabled particulars given in the Argus of 1st August. I refer to the report of a statement made by the Secretary to the Ministry for Foodstuffs in the House of Commons, to the effect that coal costs in Germany to-day £1 2s. 6d. per ton, and in Great Britain £1 12s. 2d. The bar steel made by the use of that coal is quoted at £6 15s. per ton in Germany, and at £10 per ton in Great Britain. The Argus of the same date gives as the quotation for coal, in Victoria, £2 ls. per ton.

Senator Lynch - For household use.

Senator SENIOR - If there is any discount upon that price to the local manufacturer there may be a proportionate discount with respect to the British and German prices. In any case, are the figures given in the British House of Commons less reliable than those of Mr. Charlton?

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The latter is a Protectionist. The House of Commons is Free Trade.

Senator SENIOR - That does not cover the point at all. Senator Lynch's argument was built upon the assertion that coal in Australia was cheaper than in England.

Senator Henderson - The honorable senator cannot make his comparisons complete since he does not state the source at which those prices are quoted.

Senator SENIOR - If the newspaper quotation of the local price of coal is incomplete or misleading, can the honorable senator say anything different of the British and German figures?

Senator Henderson - The German and British prices may be the quotation at the pit's mouth, and the Victorian price the figure at the bottom end of Bourke-street.

Senator SENIOR - The figures given have relation to the production of steel-. "We know that the price of coal in Australia is not such that it would materially increase the cost of production. We are up against the position that the wages paid in connexion with the manufacture of these implements in other countries have decreased, whereas wages in Australia have not. On a machine costing £100 there has been an increase of, approximately, 30 per cent. in the cost. I am anxious to afford protection to the man employed in manufacturing the machine and also to the employer controlling the industry. The duties imposed on the articles comprised in this item should be based on those levied on pig iron, and if we compare the two it will be found that the suggested alteration is working to the disadvantage of the manufacturers here.

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