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Tuesday, 29 July 1902

Mr MAUGER (Melbourne Ports) - Last year the Government afforded employment to a large number of painters in "Victoria by putting in hand the work of painting telegraph poles. I asked the PostmasterGeneral a few days ago to push on with this work again, and he promised to do what he could. I am sorry to say, however, that no move has yet been made, and I hope that the Government will see what can be done. Another matter of still greater importance is that of the increased importations of foreign sugar into the Commonwealth. The manager of the Yarraville Sugar Mill has intimated that he will not be able to employ a considerable number of his hands for more than half-time. This is due to a large increase in the importations of Chinese sugar. The Customs returns show that during the last twelve weeks 35,000 cwt. of Chinese sugar, of the value of ?28,893, has been imported into Victoria alone. I understand that the sugar industry is expanding considerably in China, and our imports have undoubtedly been very largely increased. We imported ?6,000 worth in April, ?9,000 worth in May, and 13,000 worth in June.

Mr Watson - That is all paying duty.

Mr MAUGER - Yes ; but that does not alter the fact that it is displacing our locally refined sugar.

Mr McColl - We cannot help that.

Mr MAUGER - Yes, we can. Cannot the Government increase the duty? Surely the honorable member does not contend that the present duty of £6 per ton should be adhered to if it proves insufficient to keep out Chinese-grown sugar?

Mr McColl - The present duty is quite high enough for the consumers to pay.

Mr MAUGER - The honorable member would not be content if Chinese products were to come into competition with those in which he is particularly interested. I hope that the Government will give their attention to this matter, because it is one of great importance.

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