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Thursday, 11 August 1921

Senator RUSSELL (Victoria) (VicePresident of the Executive Council) (5:53 AM) . - One of the largest manufacturers of cashmere socks says that the whole of his machinery can be used for making cotton hosiery.

Senator Payne - But it is not being done-.

Senator RUSSELL - I understand that 500,000 pairs of cotton socks are stored in Flinders-lane at the present moment awaiting a reduction in this duty. No cotton hosiery was manufactured in Australia under the old Tariff, but a good deal is being manufactured here now, and as an indication of what is going to happen in the future, I may mention that large quantities of cotton have been ordered for spinning in Australia, i

Senator Payne - That cotton is for use in the manufacture of silk hosiery, which has cotton tops and heels.

Senator RUSSELL - The figures of the importation of cotton hose for 1919-20 are .as follows: - United Kingdom, £201,603; Japan, £70,765; United States of America, £342,890; 'other countries, £17,424; total, £632,682. In its report, the Inter-State Commission stated -

For the reasons stated in the Commission's report on cotton-growing, .there are at present difficulties which, for a time at least, will preclude the possibility of cotton yarn being made here, but that is no reason why the manufacture of cotton socks and stockings should not be encouraged.

Poy and Gibson made 40,000 dozen pairs of cotton hose during 1919. Their plant has been largely increased, and they expected to turn put during the following year 40,000 dozen pairs. Other firms in Victoria who propose to engage in the manufacture of cotton hose are the Lincoln Knitting Mills and L. H. Mellor and Company. 'Two firms in Sydney - Hughes and Mayor and G. H. Bond and Company Limited - also intend to manufacture these articles. The latter firm estimate their possible production during the next two years at £500,000.

Senator Payne - Their manager assured me that they had none in stock, and that they could not manufacture them, because there was no demand for them.

Senator RUSSELL - The manufacture of cotton hose presents no special difficulty. Its establishment and expansion depend wholly on effective Protection being given. The raw material, cotton yarn, is provided for in item 392a, under which it is proposed to admit it free under the British and intermediate Tariffs, and to impose a duty of 5 per cent, ad valorem under the general

Tariff. As an indication of the progress made in the cotton hose industry and related industries, the value of the importations of cotton yarn increased from £40,214 in 1913 to £184,436 in 1918-19. In view of this wonderful increase in the importations of cotton yarn, and seeing that the hosiery makers can fill their spindles just as easily with cotton as with wool, there seems to be no reason why we should not be able to manufacture cotton hosiery here.

Senator Payne - But the duty I am proposing ought to be ample protection for them.

Senator RUSSELL - The rate of 15 per cent, which the honorable senator proposes seems to be rather low. We ought to give a reasonable protection to the industry. Mr. Lincoln, of the mills at Coburg, which employ 700 people, says that he can undertake the manufacture of these socks if he is protected. He is evidently at present dealing with wool, . which is protected, and from which he probably gets a better return. He says that he only desires a certain amount of help, and that to-morrow, if necessary, he could convert the machinery so as to deal with cotton goods. All the raw material for the manufacture of cotton goods is free of duty, and we ought, I think, to do something that has at least the appearance of giving a little protection. The Government suggests 30 per cent., and Senator Payne suggests 15 per cent. At 30 per cent., on the lowest-priced cotton stocking at ls. a pair, the duty is 4d. - or 2d. under the honorable senator's proposal - and on the highest priced, at ls. 7d., the duty is 6£d., or a mean of 5d. These are prices for ordinary cotton stockings, not for the high grades, which are much dearer. On prewar prices, with the lowest at 4d. and the highest at 7d., the duties would be l|d. and 2Jd. respectively, or a mean of, say, 2d.

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