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Wednesday, 16 November 1921

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Repatriation) . - Senator Payne said that this industry had done remarkably well on the low duties which prevailed prior to the introduction of this Tariff.

Senator Payne - The industry was firmly established.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable senator might have mentioned the period during which this progress has been made, and explained that it covered the years of the war and the period the duties embodied in the schedule have been in operation. It is admitted now that this industry has obtained a certain measure of stability, but that cannot be attributed solely to the moderate duties which previously existed. Conditions are now altering, and, as the protection hitherto afforded is disappearing, it will be impossible for the industry to progress with an impost of 10 per cent.

Senator Payne - The rates I favour are 15, 20, and 25 per cent., respectively.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The British rate as proposed by the Senate is only 15 per cent.

Senator Payne - The Minister uses the British preferential column when it suits him.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I understand that the bulk of importations are from the United Kingdom, and, if we adopted duties of 15, 20, and 25 per cent., would come in under the first-mentioned rate.

Senator Payne - No.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then preference is a sham unless it brings about that result. I think I am entitled to say that Senator Payne is prepared to protect the imported manufactures by 15 per cent. duty.

Senator Payne - That is unfair.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not wish to be unfair.

Senator Payne - Four-fifths of the importations come from countries other than the United Kingdom, and the Minister knows it.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not know it. I shall stress the point that, in advocacy of the policy of preference, whateverthe importations may be, if the duties suggested by Senator Payne are approved, it is assumed that the bulk of the importations will come in under the 15 per cent. duty, otherwise the preference is of no avail. Senator Paynesaid that corsets could not be compared with other articles of apparel. I admit that they cannot, and if suchis the case it is remarkable that the honorable senator is in favour of higher duties on other apparel.

Senator Payne - That is not so.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Blouses and such articles of attire are dutiable at 40, 50, and 55 per cent., respectively, but when it is a question of more complicated articles, such as corsets, he favours, because they are more difficult to manufacture and require superior knowledge, increasing the difficulty by advocating lower rates. It seems to me that the more skill required the greater the justification for giving encouragement to the industry.

Senator Foster - Senator Payne decries the ability of his own country to produce articles of the desired quality.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I remind Senator Payne that he distinctly affirmed that the imported article was regarded as giving better value for the money than the locally-produced one. If that is an argument against a reasonable duty on corsets it is also an argument against dozens of other duties which Senator Payne has supported. He has favoured a duty of 40 or 50 per cent, on articles which school girls can make. 1

Senator Payne - That was a Government proposal. Did I not oppose it?

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I cannot follow the votes of individual senators, bc- . cause they vary so much. The Senate agreed to duties of 40, 50, and 55 per cent, on many articles of attire which are made within the domestic circle, and the manufacture of which does not entail special skill; but I do contend that on articles such as corsets there should be a higher duty. The Government's idea originally was that corsets should come under the general heading of "Apparel," and had the old Tariff been all that was required there would have been no need for a special duty. . The original Tariff withrespect to corsets was 40, 50, and 55 per cent. This Chamber proposed 15,' 20, and 25 per cent., and the House of Representatives now offers 30, 40, and 45 per cent. That would be going a considerable way to bridge the gap between the decisions of the two Chambers, and I hope the modification will be accepted.

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