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Tuesday, 19 May 1936

Senator ARKINS (New South Wales) . - When this sub-item was under discussion earlier in the debate, Senator Payne asked me to sit down with him and have a little chat about the industry affected by it.

Senator Payne - Does the honorable senator propose now to disclose what took place in a private conversation?

Senator ARKINS - I accepted the honorable gentleman's request and sat down, as it were, at the master's feet to listen to his words of wisdom. He produced, for my inspection, some samples of twills, denims, dungarees and -jeans which had been washed, scoured or treated. One sample was, I believe, a khaki drill.

Senator Payne - How many did I say had been washed?

Senator ARKINS - One only. But my complaint is that the honorable gentleman showed me a sample of what must have been absolute rubbish.

Senator Payne - I did not.

Senator ARKINS - It must have been rubbish, because he will recall I remarked on its obviously inferior quality, saying that I waa not concerned whether the British duty made a difference of ls. 6d. or 2s. 6d. in the cost of a pair of trousers, but I certainly was interested in the quality of the material. The sample which the honorable gentleman showed me reflected gravely on the important Australian industry of cottonmanufacture. After it had been washed it had gone almost white. Senator Foll has sin?e placed in my hands a sample of material manufactured in Australia, and I feel sure that the information which Senator Payne gave me was coloured - no doubt the same could be said of the information given by Senator Foll - by the interests concerned. The position is impartially stated in the following official comment : -

The State Governments of Queensland ami Now South Wales have made extensive purchases. Their standards are high and tests severe. The reports of the Government Analysts say that the cloths are everything that could be desired so far as quality and fastness of dyes are concerned.

Thi3 report definitely contradicts Senator

Payne's statement. The honorable gentleman showed me a sample in which the dye was of no value whatever. I do not suggest that Senator Payne deliberately attempted to mislead me, but the sample which he showed to me was not fair to the Australian manufacturers. The following letter written by Overall Servis Limited, Paddington, Sydney, to the Bradford Cotton Mills Limited, 77 York-street, Sydney, is also conclusive evidence of the value of Australian material : -

We have over the past six months used approximately 4,300 yards of your cotton drill, described as 14/D quality, and wish to state that the material has given complete satisfaction.

As you are aware, we are using your unbleached drill and more recently your khaki drill. The latter has proved a fast colour, having so far stood up to six severe launderings, and in between times, hard wear in the motor trade. We feel that at this stage we can definitely describe 14/D khaki drill as a. fast colour.

We might mention that we were opposed to the use of Australian drill and criticized severely the original samples which you submitted. Since then, the improvements of quality, &c, fully justify the use of your material in our business.

I feel certain that if this industry is given a chance, it will prove its worth to Australia. In the initial stages of the development of every secondary industry in. Australia 'difficulty has been experienced in producing goods of the required quality. This was so in connexion with the jam manufacturing industry of Tasmania. At one time, people who wanted the best jam bought Lazenby's or Moreton's products, but now nobody in Australia wishes for anything better than the I.X.L. jams manufactured by Henry Jones Limited, of Tasmania. If the Australian manufacturers are given the opportunity to turn out goods in substantial quantities, they almost invariably produce a good article.

Senator Payne - The Tasmanian jam manufacturing industry did not ask for a very high protection in order to establish itself.

Senator ARKINS - I should have to study political history to say whether that is so or not. The honorable senator's recent political history makes it extremely difficult for us to know where he stands. A few days ago, when the cement duties were under consideration, he stood solidly against the adoption of the Government's proposal, and, incidentally, against the recommendations of the Tariff Board and the provisions of the Ottawa agreement. I believe it was he who took great pains to tell us that he was at least consistent in his inconsistency. I do not know why he should glorify himself on that account. I have no desire to labour this subject unduly, and am, in fact, making only my second speech on it, whereas Senator Payne has, I believe, occupied the full time allowed him under the Standing Orders. The State Stores Board of Queensland has indicated very clearly that it regards the quality of Australian cotton piece goods as satisfactory. A communication on this subject from the board's office reads -

With reference to your letter of the 3rd October, 1934, regarding khaki cotton drill, I have to advise that, with the exception of weight, the material is suitable for our requirements. The dye is satisfactory as regards resistance to sunlight, perspiration and washing.

Senator Paynewould have had us believe that the quality of the Australian article was seriously inferior.

Senator Payne - I did not say anything of the kind.

Senator ARKINS - If we give our manufacturers the opportunity to produce a sufficiently large quantity of cloths of this class, we shall have no need to complain of the quality. I hope that this amendment will be defeated. The proposal of the Government will undoubtedly help to preserve a primary industry, which is of major importance to the Commonwealth. Every other great country of the world takes care to encourage the cotton industry within its borders. To my mind, a conclusive reason for supporting the Government on this issue is that the establishment of the cotton industry within Australia is of vital concern for defence purposes. The Tariff Board has inquired into every aspect of the subject, and we may safely accept its recommendation, for it has made it abundantly clear that the cotton industry is essential to the well being and national safety of Australia.

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