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Wednesday, 16 November 1921

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Repatriation) . - I move -

That the request be not pressed.

When the Tariff came to the Senate the duties proposed were 40 per cent. British, 50 per cent. intermediate, and 55 per cent. general. This Committee requested the insertion of the new sub-item, with varying duties in respect of articles of wool or containing wool as distinct from cotton. From the administrative point of view, there is great objection to this attempted classification which will lead to great inconvenience, both to the Department and the importers, because, in order to ascertain whether an article contains wool, it will be necessary to open up the goods on the wharf, and inspect practically all goods entered as cotton, as the presence of wool would necessitate the imposition of higher rates of duties. It must be remembered that it is proposed to impose a duty of 10 per cent., 15 per cent., and 20 per cent. on woollen yarns, to operate on. and after 1st January, 1923. It is, therefore, difficult to see why duties should be imposed on knitted underwear lower than those on apparel made up from cotton piece goods, which is liable to 40 per cent., 50 per cent., and 55 per cent. under item 110 b. As the woollen knitted goods, including the materials used in their manufacture, are entirely produced in Australia, there are strong reasons for giving special consideration to this branch of the woollen and clothing industry, which should be a valuable asset to country districts. In certain Victorian towns, Clunes for one, knitting mills have been established with satisfactory results, both to the people who are provided with employment and the manufacturers. Seeing that the industry is an offshoot of our main woollen industry, I am asking the Committee to recede from its former position in the interests of the woollen industry. To the extent that we foster this industry the Tariff will do good. As the cotton industry is not yet established in Australia, the duties requested by the Senate can do nothing to assist our primary producers.

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