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Wednesday, 31 August 1921

Senator DUNCAN (New South Wales) . - Victoria for years has been practically the home of the boot manufacturing industry in Australia. It is interesting, therefore, to hear a Victorian senator request a fairly substantial reduction of duty, and to listen to the support given him by another Victorian, who is equally well aware of the whole of the facts. There is a strong feeling that the people are paying too dearly for the degree of protection which has been afforded manufacturers. The National Parliament should give consideration, not only to makers who have been taken very good care of for many years, but to the parents of growing families throughout the Commonwealth. Heads of households are being forced to pay excessively heavy prices for articles which, in many cases, are of inferior quality, owing to foreign competition having been virtually shut out. I am agreeable to afford such protection as will permit the Australian manufacturer to meet competition from, abroad on a fair and reasonably favorable footing, but I do not think he should be so protected as to be made practically free from all regard for overseas competitors. The local manufacturer has been, and still is, taking advantage of the situation, and, unfortunately, the retailer has done the same in many instances. If a duty, of 40 per cent, is not sufficient, it is not Tariff protection, but "police" protection, that the manufacturers must be in need of. The existing rates may have the effect of forcing many children to go barefooted. In the long run that may not be an evil. If the people are led to boycott retailers who have been demanding altogether unreasonable prices, drastic reductions may be brought about.

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