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Wednesday, 13 August 1902

Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It seems to me that instead of leaving it to be defined by departmental by-laws what description of material is to be exempt from duty as stay-paper and stay-cloth, we should insert a definition in the Tariff. I have had some experience of the delays and inconvenience caused by this practice of interpreting the Tariff by departmental bylaws. I have been informed by an importer that he has a large quantity of this material now upon the water, but when it arrives here, if these departmental by-laws are not framed - and they are not likely to be - he will haveto pay duty upon it, against the evident wish of the committee. I therefore move -

That the motion be amended by the addition of the words "and that the words ' under departmental by-laws ' be omitted, with a view to insert in lien thereof the words ' gummed on one side, in rolls out to a width of not more than one inch.'"

I think it is wrong to depend toomuch upon departmental by-laws, especially when we have an autocratic administration at the Custom-house. We should decide whether any article should be dutiable or otherwise, and importers should not be called upon to pay duty at the caprice of the Customs officials.

Mr Kingston - There is no objection to the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion, as amended, agreed to.

Division XIV. - Vehicles.

Item 126, Vehicles, viz., . . . Hansom cabs ; also single or double-seated waggons, waggonettes, and four-wheel buggies with tops, 25 per cent.

Request.- That the duty be reduced to 20 per cent.


That the amendment requested be not made.

The Senate was very evenly divided upon this item, and the proposal for the reduction of the duty was carried by a majority of only one. We decided that the six different groups of vehicles dealt with in this division should be subject to a duty of 25 per cent. The Senate have reduced the duty to 20 per cent. in three instances, and have allowed the duty to remain at 25 per cent. in the others, but I can see no reason why two different rates of duty should be adopted. If the duty had been reduced in all cases to 20 per cent., we might have been able to discuss the matter. As the Senate appear to have been very evenly divided, and as the duty is one which will afford protection to an important industry, employing a large number of skilled artisans, I think we should adhere to our original decision.

Sir WILLIAMMcMILLAN (Wentworth). - The fact that the Senate did not do its duty completely should not deter us from complying with their request, so far as they have proceeded in the right direction. The principal reason urged for the reduction of the duty was that the import charges upon such bulky articles as vehicles are so high as to afford sufficient natural protection to the local manufacturers without any duty. Certainly such a high duty as 25 per cent. is not required, because if the natural protection is added the advantage to the local manufacturers will amount to 50 or 100 per cent. ad valorem. In New South Wales we have been able to manufacture buggies and other classes of vehicles in nearly all the small country towns without the aid of any duty whatever, and we should not now retain a duty which would be practically prohibitive of imports.

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