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Wednesday, 10 December 1930

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- This afternoon I received from the Assistant Minister (Senator Barnes) replies to certain questions which I addressed to him on the 5th December relating to the increase in the price of glass used by tomato-growers, as compared with the prices ruling prior to the operation of the deferred duty in June last. Honorable senators will, perhaps, remember that statements which I made at the time were not accepted by the Minister, bo I asked him the following question : -

What increase in the price per case of glass used by tomato-growers has been charged by merchants nB per their price lists since the deferred duty on this glass was imposed in June last?

The Minister this afternoon stated that the price per case ruling prior to. the 20th

June, 1930, was 23s. 9d. and the price per case ruling to-day on glass, dutypaid prior to the 30 th June, was 33b., an increase of 9s. 3d. per. case. For larger sizes 26-40, the price was 25s. lid., and now is 36s. per case, while for still larger sizes, 61-70, the price waB 28s. Id., and now is 39s. According, to the admission made by the Minister this afternoon, the average increase is about lis. per case. Price-lists which 1 have received from two reputable firms of glass merchants in Melbourne show that the price in July, very shortly after the duty was imposed, increased by 15s. per case. I also asked the Minister what quantity of this class of glass had been imported since the duty had been made operative, and to-day I was informed that, for the four mouths from July to October inclusive, £11,000 worth had been imported. I asked, further, what was the estimated quantity in stock in Australia when the duty was imposed, and I was told to-day that the estimated quantity in stock iu New South ' Wales and Victoria was 6,489,700 square feet of plain sheet glass. I stated some time ago that the people who were asking for this deferred duty would not be in a position to manufacture glass for another twelve months, and that there was in Australia sufficient to supply all requirements for the period mentioned. My statements were not accepted. The Minister allowed the deferred duty to become 'operative, with the result that tomato-growers' are now compelled to pay an additional 15s. per case for glass, and every, person using' window-glass is also penalized. ' I mention these matters now, because' it is thu only opportunity which T shall have, before the Senate rises, to protest against the action of the' Government. This Ministry professes to be mindful of the interests of the consumers; but, strangely enough, by its tariff administration, it allows wealthy merchants and manufacturers to moke additional profits at the expense of the general community. It is some satisfaction to me to know that the replies which I received this afternoon bear out to. the full the statement which I made a month or two ago in this chamber.

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