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A little beady snippet from the past.

On 13 August 1952 the Minister for Trade and Customs referred to the Commonwealth Tariff Board a reference to examine whether articles used in the practice of religion should be admitted duty free or at some determined rate. Australia used to have a very protective tariff regime to protect Australian industry. In 1952 imported apparel (i.e. vestments etc) endured a 22.5% British Preferential Tariff (BPT), and a 57.5% maximum general rate. Rosary beads (ie, 'fancy goods, being beads unstrung or strung') had 27.5% BPT and 52.5% General, holy medals 27.5% BPT and 62.5% General, and holy pictures free BPT and 12.5% General. A public inquiry duly was held, with hearings in Sydney on 25 November 1952, and in Melbourne on 11 December 1952 and 10 March 1953. An E W Dwyer family member appeared, representing the company and the Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn, and supporting reduction of the tariff, as also did a representative from Melbourne of several major overseas religious publishers, such as Burns & Oates. Mr Denis Ambrose Bergin of Sydney represented his firm opposing reductions. His firm made one type of rosary beads and plastic holy water fonts. The firm made one line of rosary beads by employing invalids and others 'who have spare time to engage in the process of linking the beads'. All other items were imported. Total imports to meet Australian annual requirements were estimated at 6,000 [pounds sterling] to 7,000 [pounds sterling] for rosary beads, 5,000 [pounds sterling] to 10,000 [pounds sterling] for statues of carved wood, marble and terra cotta, and 250 [pounds sterling] for incense and charcoal. Bergin admitted he could not make rosary beads for less than two shillings sterling a set.

The Tariff Board duly considered the evidence, and reported to the parliament by its Report dated 17 July 1953 of 7 pages in lengthy detail. In its summary the Tariff Board noted that rosaries '... primarily are articles for individual rather than collective worship; they form numerically by far the great bulk of the importations of religious articles and probably half of the value; in the made-up form they could not be mistaken for the general class of jewellery or articles of adomment' etc. The end result was that rosaries valued at more than one pound per set should be subject to tariff: those less than one pound admitted free. and no change to the tariff for other items.
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Article Details
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Author:Campbell, Tom
Publication:Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jan 1, 2004
Previous Article:Australian Catholic history conference.
Next Article:Hibernian society members in 1932.

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