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Thursday, 3 June 1926

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- Sub-item b 1 reads - " (b) Apparel (knitted), articles of, viz. - (1) Blouses, skirts, underwear, and bathing costumes -

(a)   cotton or other material n.e.i., each ls. British; (b) wool or silk or containing wool or silk, each 2s. 6d. British. I desire to submit a request to add after the words, "wool or silk or containing wool or silk," the words " in the fabric thereof." Under the proposed duties the words "wool or silk or containing wool or silk" apply to men's and women's ordinary cotton underwear. The words " wool or silk or containing wool or silk " are intended to apply only to the fabric of which the garment is manufactured, but, under a ruling of the Customs authorities, the higher duty is charged on cotton garments, if the buttons are covered with a silk tape, or the collarband consists of a material containing silk and cotton. I feel sure that it was not the intention of Parliament to penalize the wearers of cotton garments by making them pay the heavier duty imposed on silk or woollen garments, simply because the tape on the neck of a garment contains a little silk. For the information of the committee, I produce a suit of men's cotton underwear such as is worn in the tropical parts of Australia. Around the neck of the cotton undervest, which is of exactly the same quality as the cotton underpants, is a binding containing silk, and, although the whole fabric of which the garment is made is pure cotton, and ought to be dutiable at ls., British preferential, the Customs Department levies a duty of 2s. 6d., because the neckband contains - a small proportion of silk. The heavier duty should apply only to fabrics containing wool and silk, in order to protect certain industries established in Australia where such material is manufactured.

Senator McLachlan - Is it not a matter of administration?

Senator PAYNE - No; a decision has been given in the matter, and I do not intend to submit to administrative decisions which, in my opinion, do not conform to the intention of Parliament. I move -

That the House of Representatives be reQuested to amend sub-item 5b by inserting after the words " wool or silk or containing wool or silk," paragraph 1 (b), the words " in the fabric thereof."

If the request is adopted, garments consisting of pure cotton, the buttons on which may be covered with a material consisting of silk, or which have collarbands of similar material, will not be dutiable at the higher rate. The difference between the duty of ls. and 2s. 6d. is considerable, particularly where an ad valorem duty of 30 per cent, is also imposed.

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