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Thursday, 3 June 1926

Senator CRAWFORD (QueenslandHonorary Minister) , - I am surprised at the fight Senator Payne is putting up in the interests of the manufac turers overseas against those of Australian manufacturers and Australian workmen. I can tell the honorable senator without hesitation, in reply to his request, that the manufacturers of knitted goods did ask for increased duties.

Senator Payne - Did the Australian Knitting Mills ask for an increase?

Senator CRAWFORD - That I cannot say. I have not that information with me, but during the course of the investigation by the Tariff Board it was learned that there was a great deal of dumping taking place, especially in connexion with the cheaper quality of garments. One witness gave evidence, on oath, that certain lines had been offered to Australian warehousemen at prices below the cost of the cotton from which they were made.

Senator Payne - That is absolute nonsense. I know all about that.

Senator CRAWFORD -This evidence was given on oath, and it could have been contested by those who were interested in preventing an increase in the duty. In another case, a line was offered at a dollar per dozen, whereas the labour costs amounted to 5s. 6d. a dozen. The new rates of duty have been in operation for nine months, and during that time there has been no increase in the price of the articles upon which additional protection has been given. The manufacturers have given an undertaking to the Minister for Trade and Customs that they will not increase their prices. The effect of the increased duties has been to remove a great deal of the unfair competition from which Australian manufacturers were suffering, and to give them a greater market for their products. As a consequence, some of the mills are employing two or three times the amount of labour they employed nine months ago, but Senator Payne evidently does not think this desirable. He thinks it is more in the interests of Australia to have these cheap goods dumped here and to have the knitting industry revert from its present apparently prosperous position to that in which it was before this tariff took effect. That would mean that the people who had invested their money in these undertakings would get no return from theirinvestments, and, moreover, that hundreds of employees would become workless. The committee is not likely to support a course which would have such disastrous results. I remind the honorable senator that these duties became operative when the tariff schedule was introduced. Its effect was to enable Australian manufacturers to employ additional labour, and. to increase their output, with the result that to-day the industry is in a fairly flourishing condi tion. So long as the duties are not reduced, that position should continue. I repeat that these duties will not mean an increased price to the consumer.

Request negatived.

Item agreed to.

Item 114 -

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