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Tuesday, 23 August 1921

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) (12:26 PM) . - The Government propose a duty of £2 10s. each on machine heads imported from Great Britain, and I assume that there is a duty of 30 per cent, on other parts of a sewing machine.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is so.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Two pounds ten shillings is a very high duty on a part of a sewing machine. Some years prior to the war I imported a sewing machine from Canada, which, I was informed, was quite as good as a Singer sewing machine. It was a drop-head machine; it lasted many years, and did excellent work, and it cost only £2 10s. in Canada. It cost me £5 by the time it was delivered at my house in Burwood, near Sydney, after freight and charges had been added; but as I have said, the cost in Canada was £2 10s.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - How does the honorable senator account for the fact that sowing machines, though admitted free, are sold in Australia for from £12 to £14 each?

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I think that Senator Drake-Brockman accounted for it when he said that a number of people will have a Singer sewing machine. When I bought the sewing machine to which I have referred, a friend of ours bought a Singer machine, and gave £12 12s. for it. In the opinion of the women-folk, that Singer machine was no better than the one I bought. I believe that there is more profit made upon sewing machines than upon almost any other article, and one reason probably is because a large number of them are sold on the time-pay ment system. I am sorry that I cannot now remember the name of the machine I bought, and which cost £2 10s. in Canada. I was informed at the time that the Singer machine cost 30s. to make in England. I am speaking of several years ago.

Senator Payne - Fifteen pounds is charged now for an ordinary Singer sewing machine.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Some time after I got the machine to which I have referred, I could not have obtained it at the same figure, because some one, I think in Newcastle, secured the agency for the machine in Australia, and it then had to be purchased through the agent.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - And the agent had to live.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - If sewing machines are as dear as they are said to be, it is a scandal, and something should be done to bring the prices down. If the manufacture of sewing machines were commenced here, the prices might be reduced.

Senator Earle - In what other way could a reduction be secured?

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - If a Customs duty such as this had been in operation at the time, I should have had to pay more for the machine I imported from Canada. I should like to have from the Minister a statement as to what the combined duties on the heads and tables and stands would amount to per machine.

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