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Wednesday, 31 August 1921

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister' for Repatriation) . - I think there is another view that I may be pardoned for presenting. It is quite clear that Australia produces more hides than we are at present using, and hence our exportation. It has been stated that the exports total 1,500,000 hides, whereas the imports of the same class of hides are a shade over 500,000. It is quite clear that these hides are coming here not to supply the local need ; but, at the same time, they do provide local work.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - We have sufficient hides to provide the work.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - True; but, as we have more than sufficient hides, those coming in cannot take the place of similar hides in local use.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - No, but they are "cutting" the market.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable senator would not have said that a little while ago, when, though the imports were still coming, the price soared sky-high. The bringing of these hides here does add to employment, because they are not bought to remain in a green state; they are taken through some process of manufacture, though how far I cannot say. It does not appear material to me whether this duty is imposed or not.

Senator Gardiner - Then accept the request.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I merely wish to state the reasons that are actuating the Government. It is contended by the trade that there are certain hides produced in New Zealand which, perhaps owing to the character of the cattle, are not to be found here. I cannot vouch for that, however.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - I deny it.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I have never heard in a Tariff debate any statement which somebody would not deny.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - What hide is there that we cannot produce?

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am not an. expert on " hide " outside this House; I only state the reasons that induced the Government to include these hides in this category, in the Tariff. As I have said, it appears to me that, whether this duty be imposed or not, it -will not materially affect the industry one way or the other. I point out, however, that these hides are not brought here simply for the pleasure of importing them; they are purchased for treatment in some way which it is possible New Zealand does not provide.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - They are consigned here to be sold by brokers.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Who buys them?

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - They come into competition with our own hides.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - They are purchased by people who set men to work making them into leather.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - The fact is that hides are so low in value that New Zealand exporters cannot afford to pay the freight to England.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is quite clear that we have an exportable surplus of our own. If we purchase New Zealand hides we export them also, but it is for the profit of the men who have converted them into leather.

SenatorSir Thomas Glasgow. - Why not convert our own hides into leather ?

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - We are doing so largely.

Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow - New Zealand would not allow our jam to be exported there the other day !

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable senator is not submitting this request as a measure of retaliation ?

Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow - No; I am merely answering your argument.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - This is a duty intended by Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow, I take it, to protect the interests of Australia, and so far I am with him. I ask the honorable senator to consider, " seeing that we have an exportable surplus, and we are bound to go on exporting, whether there is any detriment in allowing these hides to come here to be worked up into leather, and exported in that f orm . It is a belief that this is what occurs thatleads the Government to take their present attitude. I am. not prepared to accept the amendment.

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