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Thursday, 11 August 1921

Senator RUSSELL (Victoria) (VicePresident of the Executive Council) . - The protection suggested is not for the purpose of affording an opportunity for the establishment of the manufacture of cotton piece goods in Australia, but is to give the British manufacturers of cotton piece goods an advantage over the manufacturers of these goods who are established in other countries. In 1918-19 we imported £10,485,200 worth of cotton piece goods from the United Kingdom, as against £5,560,183 worth in the previous year, but the value of our importations of these goods from Japan has increased from £49,508 in 1913 to £1,542,400 in 1918-19. Surely these figures show that Ave ought to afford some advantage to Great Britain in respect of these goods, particularly when we do not manufacture them in Australia. The rates, as proposed in the schedule, will give the United Kingdom a preference of 15 per cent, against the products qf any country to which the intermediate Tariff is npt extended, and 5' per cent, preference against any country .to which the intermediate Tariff may bc extended. While the value of imports of United . Kingdom . origin advanced by 167 per cent, from 1913 to 1918-19 that pf Japanese cotton piece goods imported into Australia increased by 3,015 per cent, and that of United States of America origin by 755 per cent. The increased value of cottons imported from the United Kingdom does not indicate an increase in the quantity of such goods, as is evident from the fact that the price of American raw cotton, which chiefly controls the price of the cotton piece goods, advanced from 13.31 cents per lb. in July, 1914, to 30 cents per lb. in July, 1919, this being an increase of 135 per cent. The comparatively higher increase in the cost of labour and coal in the United Kingdom added to the higher price of the raw material would certainly show a greater percentage increase than is observable in the value of the imports from that country in 1918-19, as compared with 1913. The advance in the value of imports from the United States of America and Japan- represents, on the other hand, an enormous increase in the actual quantity of the goods supplied.

The competition of these countries, especially of Japan, is assuming a very serious aspect in other countries as well as in Australia; for instance, in India, and, in respect of the United States of America, in European markets. His Majesty's Commercial Secretary at Yokohama, in a report published in the Board of Trade Journal of the 11th September, 1919, states -

The superior position obtained by Japanese cotton yarn and fabrics on the Chinese market, whence they have driven Indian goods, and their recent rapid advance in India and Australia, has been obtained without doubt by the absence of strict restrictions of working hours and the low. level of wages.

In the same report the hours of labour in textile factories are thus described -

The hours for both day and night work are from 0 to (Jj rest periods being as follows: - Fifteen minutes between 9 and 0.15; thirty minutes from 12 to 12.30, fifteen minutes from 3.15 to 3.30. Day and night shifts are changed once every week or ten days, when twenty-four hours' complete rest is given:

There is no Saturday afternoon holiday in Japan. ' These facts' show the necessity for extending greater preference to Great Britain than has hitherto been given. I am sure no one in. this Chamber wishes our Australian girls to work in clothing factories under conditions similar to those operating in Japan, and' I think we are ali ready to extend a preference to Great Britain in this regard, because the working conditions in the Old Country are entirely different from those in the countries with which it has to compete in the manufacture of cotton goods.

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