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Tuesday, 30 August 1921

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister for Defence) . - If Senator Keating's premises , were all right, then of course his argument would be all right, but his premises are all wrong. Honorable senators have seen the logs sawn up, and they know there are certain flitches not of sufficient size to be cut up into box timber. Senator DrakeBrockman has told us of the waste timber there is in the case of jarrah, and how, owing to the exigencies of the war, it was usedup for small purposes. Thatis exactly what happens in regard to boxmaking. Sizes of 7 x2½ inches or less are not imported to cut up, but the waste and surplus timber of the log-cutting is used for box-making within the Commonwealth. That those concerned are able to compete is shown by the fact that during last year only £2,000 worth of material under this head was imported into the Commonwealth. The value of the importation is only11s. 4d. per 100 super. feet, so that this 5s., we have to bear in mind, represents a duty on that value of nearly 50 per cent. If we wish to know what protection the local manufacturer gets we must not take subitems i and h but must have regard to the difference between sub -items i and c. That the duty is adequate is shown by the fact that the box-making industry has been able to progress under a lower rate of duty. One of the leading manufacturers has been interrogated by the departmental officials, and has expressed himself as satisfied .

Senator Keating - That was before our last vote.

Senator PEARCE - Yes, but it was in regard to the duty as it stands here; in any case, the position is not affected by our last vote, because this is not the timber with which we were then dealing. I cannot give that manufacturer's name without his permission, and I cannot get his permission at this hour of the night. I am assured, however, by the departmental officials that he is one of our leading box-makers, and that he is satisfied with the duty. I ask the Committee to accept that assurance, which I give for what it is worth. I submit that there is no necessity to increase the duty, and I remind the Committee that by increasing it we should only be giving an opportunity to increase the cost of the boxes - a result which would affect our export trade in the direction I have indicated.

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