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Thursday, 25 August 1921

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) . - I ask the Committee not to accept this request, for several reasons. The Australian varnish trade depends very largely upon linseed oil which is made here, and the manufacture of varnish in Australia is increasing. Although we are not able to supply all our requirements of linseed oil, we have to remember that the residue remaining after the linseed has been pressed, forms a valuable cattle fodder, which is greatly in demand in time of drought. The varnishes made from tung oil enter into competition with the varnishes made from linseed oil, and if the former are admitted free it is obvious that those made from tung oil would be sold at a cheaper rate. The output of oil-cake would also be considerably reduced. I can assure Senator Thomas that whoever supplied him with his information has exaggerated the position in several instances. The honorable senator said that tung oil was preferable for dressing hardwood, and, as a Western Australian, I cannot refrain from smiling at such a suggestion, because there is no better substance for dressing hardwood than linseed oil or a mixture of the boiled and raw oil. It is universally used in Western Australia, where many of the houses are constructed of hardwood. I have not heard of tung oil being used for that purpose. Senator Thomas has also been advised that the imposition of this duty has destroyed the export trade to the East, but that is ridiculous. It has been assumed that this duty was imposed only when this Tariff was introduced; but it has been in force for twelve years, and during that time Australian manufacturers using tung oil in varnishes have been exporting. Linseed oil has dropped, in price in the United Kingdom very substantially. As there was no export from Great Britain during the war, cur varnishes were then in demand, because the market was bare. Consequently, we were able to build up an export trade ; but now Australian varnishes have to enter into competition with those manufactured elsewhere.

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