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Thursday, 11 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New ' South Wales) . - I agree with Senator Reid about the potentialities of Queensland as a cotton-producing country, and, -as I have said often before in this Chamber. the more I know of that State the greater my wonder grows that its resources have not been more developed. At the same time, I do not see why the wearers of cotton garments who live in New South Wales, or the other States, should pay exorbitant prices for them. Senator Payne has produced a sample, which he says would sell for about -4s. lid. - the wholesale price being 35s. a dozen - 'but the full value of which is about ls. 6d. Why should we have a duty of 20 per cent, against British cotton goods ?

Senator de LARGIE - Because the British cotton manufacture is highly developed.

Senator GARDINER - For every £1 worth of cotton garments that they buy, the people of Australia are required to pay 4s. in taxation. Would it not be better, if our .desire is to establish the cotton industry in Australia, to invest in the erection of mills a sum equal to that which is taken from our 5,000,000 of population in duties on cotton goods than to continue this Protective policy? When a duty results in the establishment of a factory, the proprietors of that factory make the things which are most profitable to them, and keep out of use, not only goods of the same class which could be imported, but also similar goods, and the community derives no advantage from the high prices which it has to pay for supplies. It would pay this community better to settle life annuities on all those who are connected -with many of our protected industries than to continue to bear the taxation which the Tariff imposes for the protection of those industries.

Senator Reid - The sample garment exhibited by Senator Payne is a very good article for the price, as prices go now. I sold such garments twenty years ago, and know something of the quality of such goods.

Senator GARDINER - At what price did the honorable senator sell them twenty years ago?

Senator Reid - At one time they were sold at ls. lid., but of late it has not been possible to get them.

Senator GARDINER - The honorable senator's statement bears out what I have already said about the value of this garment. Largely because of the duties, the public now has to pay practically 5s. for a garment which, twenty years ago, cost ls. lid. The Tariff makes everything dearer, and increases the cost of living, and the effect in the end must be to so overburden industry' as to break it down. That is my reason for attacking .each -item as we come to> it. It is not the public that benefits by Protective duties. I do not regard these proposals from the State point of view. The industries of Victoria are "well looked after, and there must be a good reason for that.

Senator Bolton - It is because Victorians have enterprise and energy.

Senator GARDINER - For getting* special Tariff concessions?

Senator Keating - The most insignificant Victorian industry has always been well looked after by the Tariff.

Senator de Largie - And why not?

Senator Keating - But Victorians will not assist industries in Other States; they say that they are too small.

Senator GARDINER - The most insignificant industries of Victoria are well looked after, and that notwithstanding that it is the duty of the Commonwealth Government to hold the balance even as between the States. The whole Commonwealth has to pay enormous duties for the protection of Victorian industries.

Senator de Largie - "When we get to Canberra that gibe will be flung at the honorable senator in regard- to New South Wales.

Senator GARDINER - This Parliament will meet at Canberra before very long. If the present Government will not allow it to meet there, it will meet there directly a Labour Government gets into office, and will never return to Melbourne. The industries of Victoria have received consideration at the hands of this Government altogether out of proportion to that given to the industries of the other States.

Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to 8 p.m.

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