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Thursday, 3 June 1926

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- Almost every honorable senator who has spoken on this subject has not confined his remarks to the item under review.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Newlands - Order! It is for me to determine whether the remarks of honorable senators are relevant. The honorable senator is as great an offender as any one else.

Senator PAYNE - In stating that honorable senators have not confined their remarks to the item under review, I do not wish to reflect upon the Chair. Irrelevant discussion has arisen in consequence of the Honorary Minister's references to shoddy material, which gave . some honorable senators the impression that we were dealing with textiles. The item under discussion is " Apparel and attire." I resent the virulent attack made upon me by Senator Foll, who. if he gives closer attention to the item, will realize that his remarks were not justified. When he said that my utterances were prejudicial to the success of the woollen-tweed manufacturing industry in Tasmania he displayed gross ignorance. The honorable senator knows nothing whatever concerning the item under discussion. I have not said one word that could be taken as injurious to the woollen-tweed manufacturing industry.

Senator Foll - It is difficult for anyone to understand what the honorable senator is advocating.

Senator PAYNE - It is impossible for some persons to understand any one, particularly when they are so obsessed with their own ideas that they cannot assimilate plain facts. Senator Barwell and others are under the impression that I am endeavouring to reduce the duties under which certain industries have been successfully established in Australia. 1 atn not doing anything of the kind. In the request I have submitted, I propose not only to retain the duty previously in force, but to give increased protection. The duty in operation until September of last year was 45 per cent., and in addition I suggest that a duty of 2s. 6d. per garment be imposed. The Government's proposal is that in addition to a duty of 30 per cent., a levy of 7s. 6d. per garment be imposed, which I contend will have to be borne by the poorer section of the community.

Senator Reid - The object is to protect goods manufactured in Australia.

Senator PAYNE - These duties affect not only apparel consisting of wool, but also those in which linen, cotton, and silk are used. I find now that under this proposal overcoats and suits of clothes will be dutiable at 83 per cent., plus a natural protection of 10 per cent, making a total of 93 per cent. The industry concerned does not require anything approaching that protection in order to successfully carry on its operations. I have suggested a reduction from 93 per cent, to 67 per cent., which would enable the industry, not only to successfully conduct its operations as it has in the past, but also to expand. It is not my desire to in any way embarrass manufactories established in Australia, and I shall prove later, by quoting evidence, that some do not require the protection they are seeking. If higher duties are adopted, the cost of apparel will become such a burden upon the community that there will be a demand for increased wages, in order to meet a higher cost of living. I have never advocated the reduction of duties necessary to protect established industries, and, in this instance, I am conceding additional protection in order to enable mantle making, suit making, and the manufacture of clothing to be further extended. The importation of British goods should not be practically prohibited. Australia will never prosper under such a policy. If we do not have reasonable competition how can we improve our methods? I wish to see Australia hold her own in a manufacturing sense against other countries, but we should not impose prohibitive duties. In selling our wool clip at high prices to British manufacturers, and then practically declining to purchase articles manufactured from the products we have sold them, we are adopting a most peculiar attitude. When we impose prohibitive duties against the products of British manufacturers we say, in effect, that they can purchase all they require from us, but that they dare not sell to us articles containing the raw material we have sold them.

Senator Guthrie - British manufacturers buy our wool in the open market, because they cannot purchase to better advantage elsewhere.

Senator PAYNE - Senator Guthrie'sexplanation to-day of his attitude on a previous occasion can only be regarded as "fishy." I can remember when the honorable senator supported me in opposing prohibitive duties.

Senator Guthrie - I explained my attitude.

Senator PAYNE - Yes; but the explanation was very unsatisfactory. Honorable senators who oppose the request I have submitted will be supporting the imposition of higher duties on apparel containing not only wool, but linen, cotton, and silk, which are not manufactured in Australia. I have previously pointed out that overcoats or suits used by persons of small means, and invoiced at 15s. in London, will be dutiable at 93 per cent., but the overcoats or suits purchased by persons earning £500 or £700 a year will be dutiable at only 73 per cent.

Senator Grant - That is the usual effect of protection.

Senator PAYNE - Aparently the honorable senator believes in making the poorer people carry the burden. I hope that the Government will agree to the request. If it is carried by the committee the remainder of the sub-item will have to be postponed for a complete revision.

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