6th July 2021

Tariff Board Report 1934-5

Unlike the previous tariff report, this covered metal and mother of pearl items. Included as witnesses were many manufacturers noted on the Stokes, ‘Pre-Federation’, and ‘Federation to WW2’ pages. 

Russell Newton Stokes was a grandson Thomas Stokes.

John Howard King was the son of P. J. King.

G.A Miller and Sons Ltd continues manufacturing today.

Randolph Griffiths (full name Arthur George Randolph Griffiths) was a brother-in-law of Berthold Herrman, and also Otto and Percy Rheubens, the pioneers of O.C. Rheubens & Co Ltd, that would change its name 6 years later to General Plastics Pty. Ltd.

The Pearlbutton Manufacturing Co. Ltd. was started, with government encouragement, by traders Burns Philp. Despite an increase in tariffs that resulted from this report, it was making a huge loss, and was merged with the more successful G.Herring (Aust) Pty. Ltd. in 1938.

It was argued that raw material costs and wages were higher in Australia, especially as a smaller proportion of ” female and junior labour” was used than overseas. They were able to produce all the goods needed in the local market, but without the economies of scale. They had the ability to provide orders at short notice and in small quantities. They complained that overseas firms dumped “end of season” or unfashionable items here to the detriment of local producers. They pointed out that support of trades such as die-sinking and tool-making was essential for other industries such as automobile manufacturing, and so worth supporting.

Despite the increase of the duty to 30%, as requested, the local MOP industry was in fact doomed.

In opposition it was argued that:

The Sheffield Pearl Works, with over 100 years experience, wished to export its own goods to Australia. Not surprisingly, it did not wish for a rise in duties!

The board noted that local manufacturers were progressively increasing their output, so that the current tariffs were at least partially effective, but due to “the relatively small demand and the high preliminary die and tool cost”, local manufacturers could not successfully compete against overseas producers. Therefore, the duties were increased slightly to help with this.

The full article can be seen at:


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