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Wednesday, 2 June 1926


Senator CRAWFORD (QueenslandHonorary Minister) . - As this item is a long one, I think it will meet the convenience of honorable senators if it is considered sub-item by sub-item. As increased protection has been provided for the spinning and weaving industries such increases must to a certain extent bc reflected in the duties on made-up apparel. In addition, the Australian manufacturer of ready-to-wear clothing has had to compete against increasing importations of garments made from shoddy and other low-priced materials manufactured in. overseas countries by workers who are paid wages considerably less than those paid in the Australian industry. Further, Australian manufacturers have to compete against endofseason goods and lines jobbed out at low prices to clear stocks. To show the con ditions the clothing industry has to contend with it may be stated that in England the wages for a female operative are £1 10s. for 48 hours, and in Australia £2 10s. for 44 hours, whilst male labour, according to the evidence given before the Tariff Board, is approximately 80 per cent, higher in Australia than in the United Kingdom. Importations of men's and boys' outer garments in 1921-22 were £44,019, in 1922-23 £159,522, in 1923-24 £219,355, and for eight months ended February, 1925, £126,720. These figures clearly indicate that great inroads have been made into the local industry,' present day importations being nearly five times' at much as in 192.1-22, with the result that many operatives in the clothing industry are unemployed. In order to alleviate the position the basis of duty on men's, boys' and youths' overcoats and suits and parts of suits imported separately has been radically altered, duties in the form of fixed rate and ad valorem combined, or a higher ad valorem rate of duty when such yields a. higher amount of duty, being provided. The composite rate is provided to catch the goods made from shoddy. As the imported garments are largely made from the cheaper piece goods made from shoddy the increase of duty of1s. per square yard on the lower-priced woollens has been taken into consideration when determining the rates under this item. It takes3¼ yards of material, 54 inches wide, to make a suit. It was shown in evidence before the Tariff Board that it takes 52 per cent. to 57 per cent. to bring the landed cost of an imported suit up to that of the Australian. These two factors necessitate an increase in duty at 7s. 6d. per suit or overcoat to give the local manufacturer a bare margin. The clothing industry - tailoring and manufacturing - employs about 29,000 hands, earning about £3,400,000 per annum, whilst the output is close on £11,000,000 per annum. These figures show how important it is that this industry should not be allowed to languish through oversea competition. One manufacturer of clothing who immediately after the introduction of the duties was very loud in his condemnation of them, was referred to certain woollen mills, and has since expressed his satisfactionwith the local material which he is obtaining at lower costs than the imported material he was previously using. The main trouble is the great quantity of imported garments comprised of shoddy and other very inferior classes of woollens. These are sold at prices with which the local manufacturer finds it impossible to compete. They are of a class of material not made in. Australia, and it is requested that sufficient duty be imposed to increase the selling price of these cheap,' imported garments in order that they may not be sold at lower prices than the articles made from the Australian material.







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