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Thursday, 11 August 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- I feel inclined to resent SenatorReid's reference to the ladies of the southern States, who, he tells us, do not know how to dress attractively, but wear dull and stuffy things. My observation leads me to say that no branch of the industry in the southern States of late years has grown to such an extent as has that engaged in the making of silk blouses and ties. Those industries have grown up under a Tariff which has been in force for some time, and I am glad that it is not proposed to increase it. I do not want the cost of living to be increased, and, like Senator Gardiner, I desire to sec the womenfolk of those who earn their living by the sweat of their brow given an opportunity to make themselves as attractive as possible. They have a perfect right to such an opportunity, and have enjoyed it under the Tariff which has been in operation for some years. The Government in the Tariff as introduced proposed that the duties on silk should be increased, but that proposal was defeated in another place, so that we are back again to the rates prevailing under the Tariff of 1914. We should allow them to stand. The Treasurer will have a difficult task in making ends meet, and we should hesitate to deprive him of a considerable amount of revenue, as we should do by securing a reduction of the duties on silk. There is no justification for such a reduction as is requested unless it can be shown that the duties have become a burden. I hold that they are not too heavy. They cover all classes of silk. I -believe we could impose a heavier duty on some classes of silk without affecting the welfare of the people, but itwould be difficult to differentiate.

Senator Reid - We could differentiate according to prices. If the people want good Japanese silk they should pay for it.

Senator PAYNE - But there are a hundred and one varieties of silk ranging in value from 2s. to £3 and more per yard. These are subject to ad valorem duties, and consequently the more expensive the article used the greater will be the revenue. The duties on silk are not oppressive, they have been in operation Tor some years, and I urge that they should be allowed to stand.

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