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Tuesday, 19 December 1911

Senator VARDON (South Australia) . - It is quite true that there are duties on mucilages, but dextrine is the raw material from which these very things are made. I hold in my hand a bottle of mucilage made in the Commonwealth. The bottles are made, the corks cut, the labels printed, the material prepared and bottled in the 'Commonwealth. The basis of the mucilage is dextrine. The Government are actually going to put as high a duty on the raw material as on the manufactured article. What sort of Protection is that? In the case of another locally made mucilage, of which I have a specimen, dextrine is used with a mixture of starch. Other mucilages are made entirely from dextrine with at little alcohol to make them liquefy. We have placed a duty on imported envelopes,, with the result that millions are made in Australia. There are factories in Sydney,. Melbourne and Adelaide. The material used' for .the fastening and for the flaps of the envelopes is principally dextrine. Some people say that it comes into competition with Australian-made glue, but I do not think that the Vice-President of the Executive Council would care to lick the flap of an envelope that had glue upon it. Dextrine is also a raw material for the manufacture of boxes, and is used by boot manufacturers for fastening socks in boots. I have received a letter from the printing and allied trades of Adelaide on the subject. They say -

In the first Federal Customs Bill duty wasproposed at 2d. per lb., which passed the Houses in the first instance, but was afterwards: rescinded and dextrine was placed on the free list. The duty now proposed is 25 per cent, on English invoice price. This material is largely used as an adhesive in making up cardboardboxes, envelope making, and paper manufac.turers. It is also used extensively in leather manufactures and in the hat industry, as well as many others. No firm of boxmakers in South Australia has any knowledge of this material being made in the Commonwealth, noi have they ever received samples or quotations from local manufacturers. These increased duties on* the raw material used in manufactures, combined with the added rate of wages, will so add to the cost of producing many articles, that they will be imported at less cost than they can be made up in the Commonwealth, which will mean less work for our em ployes and reduction in the staff of workers.

That statement is absolutely correct. Dextrine is made from starch, which is subjected to a process of heat and fermentation, which takes ill the gelatine out of it, and leaves it a powdered gum. Asfar as I can ascertain dextrine is not likely to be made in Australia. It is not made even in England. Although box-making and similar industries are carried on to a very great extent in the United Kingdom,, the dextrine used is imported from Germany. Our Customs statistics show, under the heading of imports from Germany, that 1,824 cwt. were imported in one year to the value of £,2,1 ^6. Those figures, however, include other articles mentioned under the same heading. There can be no sense in taking this article out of the free list and making it dutiable. The proposal is not in the best interests of the Commonwealth, and will do a positive injury to several industries. The price of the commodity ranges from£16 to £30 per ton, according to quality; and, I understand, that there are three qualities. Probably the totalamount imported during the year is from 300 to 400 tons. The Germans are well known to be far advanced in chemistry, and they seem to manufacture dextrine for the world.

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