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Wednesday, 16 November 1921

Senator REID (Queensland) .- Senator Paynein his opposition to the motion has suggested that working men are in the habit of wearing natural wool underclothing.

Senator Payne - No; I said they cannot afford to do so, and the Minister is proposing high, duties on garments which they must wear, and which are not manufactured here.

Senator REID - I cannot claim the same experience as some other honorable senators of working" men in large cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, but I can say that working men in small towns and in the bush always wear flannels. It is only when they get into what they call their Sunday clothes that some of them put on natural-wool singlets. So that there is no victimization of the working class involved in the motion. The arguments which Senator Payne used might be used against every item in the Tariff. I am out to encourage every form of industry in Australia. Senator Payne is aware that we have an unlimited supply of wool, and he knows also that these garments made of wool and cotton combined are the best for working men, because, so far as "wear and tear" is concerned, they give the best value. There are combined cotton and wool garments made in Australia at the present time.

Senator Payne - At what price?

Senator REID - I admit that at present the prices charged are too high. Senator Payne has referred to importations before the war. Everything has altered since that time. I am satisfied that Australia will be a great cottonproducing' country. I feel sure that if not in all the States, then certainly in Queensland and in Western Australia, cotton can be grown to any extent. We have wool in unlimited quantities here, and if we encourage the manufacture of these garments in Australia from a mixture of cotton and wool we shall be giving the cultivation of cotton an impetus that is very necessary. I feel sure that honorable members in another place are as anxious as we can be that the working classes should be able to obtain cheap clothing. In the interests of land settlement and the production of cotton in Australia, we should encourage here the manufacture of these garments from wool and cotton mixed. Though the prices charged at present are rather high for this class of goods, their increased manufacture should lower the price. It should be remembered that in all probability these goods will never in future be as cheap as they were before the war. The cotton crop has been . a failure this year, and British manufacturers of cotton goods are looking for sources from which to obtain their raw materia).

Senator Payne - I saw a statement to the effect that in one or two States of

America they have had the biggest cotton crop ever known there.

Senator REID - I have watched reports on the subject, and have seen the statement made that some insect got into the crops in some of the States of America and absolutely ruined them. We cannot expect that these goods will come down in price. We should encourage this manufacturing industry, especially when at the same time we shall be encouraging the- production of cotton in Australia^ and, if necessary, our people should be asked to make some sacrifice to bring that about.

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