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Wednesday, 16 November 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania)

I desire to remove any misconception that there may be with regard to the quantity of corsets being made in Australia in comparison with the number needed. From the figures submitted by Senator Duncan I have formed a rough estimate of the quantity that has to be imported to meet requirements.

Senator Duncan - They are four out of twenty-four, remember.

Senator PAYNE - They are the four wholesale manufacturing establishments, which, for the purposes of this discussion, may be regarded as the corset manufacturers of the Commonwealth, though there are a number of small establishments calling themselves corset manufacturers.

Senator Vardon - Are they not manufacturers ?

Senator PAYNE - In a small way. They have small plants and employ a few people.

Senator Vardon - Would you discourage them?

Senator PAYNE - By no means. Forty years ago there were two corset manufacturers in Hobart, but at present there are practically only four establishments in the Commonwealth, and their annual output is equivalent to about 30 per cent. of the requirements of Australia.

Senator Duncan - I challenge that statement.

Senator PAYNE - The honorable senator can challenge it as much as he likes. That is the position.

Senator Duncan - Give us your authority for that statement.

Senator PAYNE - A statement appeared in the daily press recently that there were hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of corsets in bond, at the present time, awaiting clearance. The Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) unwittingly misled the Committee a few moments ago by quoting the lowest of the ad valorem duties agreed to by the House of Representatives, namely, 30 per cent. British, and suggested that that could not be regarded as a very high Tariff. The Minister quoted that rate to suit his particular case. He knows, I presume, that the great bulk of the corsets imported into Australia are not of British manufacture at all. They are made in Canada and the United States.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - What do you mean by the majority - 51 per cent.?

Senator PAYNE - Yes. The bulk of the corsets imported into Australia come from America, and will come under the general Tariff which is now 45 per cent. When this item was last before the Committee, honorable senators showed their good sense by refusing to allow an exceptionally heavy burden to be placed upon the women of Australia. I believe in compromise, and for that reason I suggest that the Committee reject the motion in the hope that asthe result of a conference a rate somewhere between the two duties will be agreed upon.

Senator Benny - Surely the message from the House of Representatives is a compromise.

Senator PAYNE - Does the honorable senator suggest ihat it is a fair compromise in view of the fact that under the old Tariff the duties were 10 per cent. and 15 per cent.?

Senator Benny - Yes, I do.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - But we are not dealing with the old Tariff now. We are considering the difference between 40 per cent., 50 per cent., and 55 per cent., as the item came to us from the House of, Representatives, and the Senate's requested amendment of 15 per cent., 20 per cent., and 25 per cent. Surely 30 per cent., 40 per cent., and 45 per cent. is a fair compromise.

Senator PAYNE - But we must bear in mind the fact that prior to the introduction of this Tariff the duties were very much lower. I cannot conscientiously support the motion. I am quite prepared to compromise. I hope the motion will be rejected in order that the item may be the subject of a conference. We may then arrive at a real compromise which will give the industry all the protection necessary to insure its development, and at the same time prevent a very grave injustice being done to the women of Australia.

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