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Tuesday, 30 August 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - The duty of 7s. fixed for undressed timber in sizes less than 7 in. by 2½ in. should govern the duty on timber undressed cut to size for making boxes, which is usually 6 in. or 7 in. wide by ½ in. to 1 in. thick. Senator Pearce has mentioned that the Inter-State Commission has recommended a difference of at least 4s. between the two, and, speaking from memory, in the last Tariff there was a difference of 5s., but the real relative difference between these box shooks and duty on undressed timber just agreed to should be at least 4s., 5s., or 6s. A boxmaker who imports a cargo of boards in various lengths for the purpose of making boxes finds that there is a fair amount of waste when they are cut up, and it would be only fair for the Minister (Senator Pearce) to indicate some reasonable amount he is willing to accept on this sub-item.

Senator Pearce - I stand by the rate of 5s.

Senator Keating - It is less than the duty on undressed timber n.e.i. we have just agreed to. It has never previously been less.

Senator Duncan - No; it will pay now to import the boxes.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I think the Minister is under some misapprehension about the matter. This is a relative duty that, on his own showing, should be increased by 5s. to keep it in line with previous Tariffs.

Senator Pearce - The local timber used for this purpose is waste timber.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - There is a boxmaking industry in Sydney.

Senator Pearce - And it was there when they had a duty of 4s.

Senator Keating - But when the duty was 4s. the duty on undressed timber n.e.i. was 2s. 6d.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The people engaged in this industry are now handicapped by the last decision of the Committee to the extent of 2s. per 100 super. feet. I impress on the Minister the importance of maintaining a reasonable difference between the timber and the actual boxes.

Senator Pearce - Last year there was only £2,000 worth of this timber imported, and the value was11s. 4d. per 100 super. feet.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I think the Minister misunderstands the position. As the matter now stands there is a premium on the importation of boxes. Already one big importer has ordered 1,000,000 boxes on the duties as they were passed by another place. It is the most glaring anomaly in the timber duties to allow cutup boxes to come in at a cheaper rate than ordinary timber. I think it will be seen that a duty of at least 12s. per 100 super. feet is required on this sub-item, with a similar increase on the next. It would only be fair to the boxmakers of Australia. In New South Wales the number of employees directly or indirectly engaged in boxmaking is no less than 1,000, and the amount of capital invested in the industry in that State is £150,000. Seeing that the users of boxes and cases have ample protection for their manufactured articles, they cannot object to a reasonable amount of protection being given to boxmakers.

Senator Pearce - One of the largest boxmakers was consulted by the Department, and expressed himself satisfied with this duty of 5s.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I would like the Minister to give me the name of that boxmaker if it is not confidential.

There was a protection given under the old duties,but as the result of the vote just given that protection has been taken away. The position now is, that the duty on timber cut to sizes for making boxes is 2s. per 100 super. feet less than the duty which has to be paid by the boxmaker on boards imported by him for the making of boxes. Will the Minister endeavour to meet that position somewhat reasonably ?

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