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Wednesday, 16 November 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- The only reason advanced by the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) in support of the motion is that we have in Australia manufacturers of hosiery other than cotton hosiery, and if the duties are reduced it will mean that a large quantity of cotton hosiery will flood the market, to the detriment of other socks and hosiery. But the cotton hosiery in bond to-day will eventually come into the market, whatever the duties may be. There is a fairly large quantity of cotton hosiery in bond, because a great many people find it necessary to wear it. The Minister and those supporting him say, in effect, that they will compel every one in Australia to wear woollen or artificial or real silk hosiery manufactured here. Cotton hosiery is being manufactured in Australia to a very limited extent. When in a city establishment a while ago I asked the proprietor if he had any Australianmade cotton hosiery in stock, and at his request an assistant produced some which had just come to hand; but the manufacturers have not laid themselves out to manufacture it to any extent. The duty on cotton hose prior to the introduction of the new Tariff was, British preferential, free, and general, 10 per cent. The request which I submitted, and which was carried, reduced the rates from 30, 40, and 45 per cent., to 20, 25, and 35 per cent. respectively; and if those duties are not agreed to, higher prices will have to be paid by the users without benefiting the local manufacturers of hosiery in any way. To increase the rates from what they were prior to the introduction of the Tariff to 30 and 45 per cent. seems to be unreasonable, because duties of 20 and 35 per cent. should be adequate.

Senator Foster - Is cotton hosiery being manufactured in Australia?

Senator PAYNE - Not to any extent.

Senator Foster - I have been informed that an offer of 1,000 dozen pairs was made.

Senator PAYNE - Samples of cotton hosiery manufactured in Australia at 12s. per dozen pairs were submitted to honorable senators, and I visited the warehouse in Flinders-lane which had sent out the samples, and asked to see the stock of cotton hose ; but I was informed that they had not any, because there was no demand for them. The Minister and the Customs officers know that there is a demand for cotton hose, and thousands of dozen pairs are awaiting clearance.

Senator Reid - What is to prevent the users getting them?

Senator PAYNE - They are waiting to see how Parliament deals with the duties.

Senator Wilson - Are we not manufacturing light woollen socks to take the place of cotton hose?

Senator PAYNE - Many people must wear cotton.

Senator Senior - And many insist on having wool.

Senator PAYNE - That is so. I trust the Committee will agree to what was previously decided upon, because the increase on the original rates should meet the case. Additional impositions only mean placing further burdens on the community. I am anxious to see the Australian manufacturers prosper, and under the proposals I have submitted they should be able to do so.

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