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Wednesday, 14 October 1931
Page: 740


Mr GREGORY (Swan) .- I move -

That the word " fifty " be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word " five ".

There is no justification whatever for these extraordinary special duties of 50 per cent. Prior to these increases, the duties imposed on dress-making material and millinery were worth ?1,905,000 per annum to the industry if it took full advantage of them, yet the wages and salaries paid in the industry totalled only ?1,507,000. Since then the Minister has trebled the tariff on such articles. Under the old rates the duties on hats and caps were worth ?637,000, yet the total of wages and salaries paid in the industry was only ?622,000. Similarly, the duties on shirts, ties and underclothing were worth ?2,209,000, yet the salaries and wages paid in the industry were only ?1,547,000. These figures, I again remind the committee, relate to customs collections on the items enumerated prior to the trebling of the duties by the Minister in this most arbitrary manner. Apparently also the Government was so " flush " of money that it could afford to dispense with revenue amounting to ?119,000, obtained from the duty on matches, because the Minister imposed an embargo on the importation of matches and, so far, has not made any attempt to get anything by way of excise duties from the local manufacturers who are profiteering on the community.


Mr Gibbons - The cost of clothing has not been increased as a result of these higher duties.


Mr GREGORY - But some dreadful things are happening in the clothing industry. If the honorable member cares to study the history of the clothing industry in Victoria from 1890 to 1897 he will be amazed at the conditions then obtaining. The Melbourne Age has f from time to time graphically described the sweating that took place, and the dreadful condition of the workers under the high tariff policy of the Victorian Government. And only a few days ago the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) directed attention to the sweating that was reported in the clothing industry in Melbourne, and the Prime Minister has called for a report upon the subject. Many people who advocate these excessive duties forget that, in the long run, the public have to pay. If the, honorable member is satisfied with the embargo on certain classes of agricultural machinery and with these special duties on metals and machinery, I am not.







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