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Tuesday, 30 August 1921

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) . - I agree with the principle of the requests made by my honorable friends, Senators Duncan and Pratten, although I donot indorse all the arguments that have been adduced by the last speaker. He said, for instance, that since the users of boxes made in the Commonwealth have protection for their commodities, the manufacturers of the boxes themselves are also entitled to reasonable protection. If he means what he says - if he wants " reasonable " protection for them. - I can agree with that view, but if he wishes to imply that the manufacturers of the boxes are entitled to the same measure of protection that is given to the varying contents of those boxes, I cannot. I agree with Senator Pratten for the reason that so far as I can see, in all our Tariff legislation, a distinction has always been made between this sub-itemi and the immediately preceding sub-item. In the Australian Tariff Hand-Book for 1919, which has been circulated amongst honorable senators to facilitate their consideration of this schedule, we find on page 95 the corresponding sub-items. I shall read them so that honorable senators may compare them with those in the. schedule before us: - 291. (h) Timber, undressed, n.e.i., in sizes less than 7-in. x 2½-in (or its equivalent) -

That agrees with sub-item h of item 291 now before us. Then we have -

(i)   Timber, undressed, cut to size for making boxes.

Thatcorresponds with the sub-itemi we are now considering. Under the Tariff of 1902 the former sub-item was dutiable at1s. 6d. per 100 super. feet, and the latter - which corresponds with that now being discussed - at the same rate. In the 1908 Tariff the former sub-item was dutiable at 2s. 6d. per 100 super. feet, and the latter at 4s. per 100 super. feet, which gave the boxmaker a protection of 1s. 6d. per 100 super. feet. Under the 1914 Tariff the duty on the former subitem was raised to 3s. 6d. per 100 super. feet, and on the latter to 5s. per 100 super. feet, still giving by way of protection to the boxmaker, a margin of1s. 6d. per 100 super. feet. We have just passed a sub-item, which corresponds with the former of these sub-items in the previous Tariffs, but under which the duties now are - British, 5s. ; intermediate, 6s.; and general, 7s. per 100 super. feet. We are now asked to make sub-itemi dutiable at a flat rate of 5s. per 100 super. feet.

Senator Earle - But the two sub-items which the honorable senator has just named are quite distinct.

Senator KEATING - Undoubtedly they are; they always have been.

Senator Earle - One relates to what is practically a waste product, and the other to a special class of timber.

Senator KEATING - That is the case sofar as manufacturers from local timbers are concerned .

SenatorEarle. - It is argued that subitemi relates to a kind of waste timber.

Senator Pearce - The sub-item does not relate to the timber that is used for box making.

Senator KEATING - Then why do we have in the sub-item the words " timber undressed, cut to size for boxmaking " Surely it isnot suggested that the timber described in sub-item as " undressed, cut to size for making boxes " is not for boxmaking.

Senator Pearce - What I meant to convey was that the timber dealt with in sub-item h is not used for making boxes.

Senator KEATING - It might be so used.

Senator Pearce - But it is not.

Senator KEATING - Ever since the Tariff of 1908, at all events, we have always recognised that the timber dealt with in the sub-item is used for making boxes, and a differential duty has been imposed. There should be some explanation as to why we have departed from the traditional practice of the Department with regard to these two subitems. Under the 1908 Tariff there was a difference of1s. per 100 super. feet between the two sub-items, and in the later Tariffs a difference of1s. 6d. per 100 super. feet. We now find that, without any apparent justification, the two sub- items are not even dutiable at the same rate. The former sub-item is made dutiable at a higher rate than the latter, which, if therewas any justification forthe differentiation made in earlier Tariffs, would go to show that what we are asked now to do is to impose a higher duty on the raw material of the box manufacturer than is imposed on the finished product. All that remains to be done when this timber, cut to size, for boxmaking is imported is to assemble the parts and nail them together. As I understand the position, sub-item i covers the parts required for making a box, so that when they are imported all that remains to he done here is to nail them together. The next sub-item relates to the like parts, but dressed and complete. It should be our desire to enocurage, as far as possible, the carrying out of the complete operations of boxmaking within the Commonwealth. We do not want to encourage the bringing in of the parts so that they may be merely assembled here by any one who can use a hammer and nails. That will not lead to the development of anything in the shape of a big industry.

Senator Earle - Most of the work is done by machinery.

Senator KEATING - Machines are used for planing, trimming, and cutting, and it is better that that work should be done for us in the Commonwealth rather than abroad. I think that the Minister will recognise that, having regard to the vote just taken, further consideration should be given to this sub-item. I am not prepared to say that the amount indicated by Senator Duncan, or that named by Senator Pratten, is the measure of difference between the two sub-items. But I do think that we ought to follow our policy of the past with regard to the two sub-items, and mark our sense of their relation to one another by some differential duty. What that difference ought to be, I am not in a position to say; but if we are not going to follow that policy, it is desirable that the Committee should have from the Minister something more than what I have described as a mere interjection that the timber contained in the preceding item is not the timber likely to be imported for use in making boxes, which will come into competition with boxes made wholly within the Commonwealth.

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