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Thursday, 3 June 1926

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) . - I understand that when this item was before another place the Minister for Trade and Customs promised to give it further consideration. Australian manufacturers have been producing boys' caps in large quantities, but unfortunately the production of men's caps in Australia is not in so satisfactory a position. The output is very limited. Under a previous item in the schedule we have given protection to the woollen manufacturing industry by the imposition of a duty which should result in a greatly decreased importation of shoddy material, and an in-, creased production of Australian material. Had the same measure of protection been given to the cap-making industry, it would to-day be in a much better position. It is surprising to find that the Minister has nothing to say in respect to this important matter.

Senator Payne - Does not the present tariff provide a 50 per cent, increased duty on this item?

Senator FINDLEY - The request of the manufacturers was not for a higher duty on all caps. Local manufacturers of boys' caps can supply all our requirements. Very few boys' caps are imported, the reason being that they are made from wool, on which there is a higher duty. I have here some samples of men's imported caps, and I am informed by experts that the material used in their manufacture is not of good quality. They are imported at rates which make it impossible for Australian manufacturers to compete with them.

Senator Reid - They cannot do it.

Senator FINDLEY - Senator Reid, who is more familiar with this business than I am, realizes that under existing conditions the Australian manufacturer cannot compete with imported men's caps. I am informed that, for their own protection, some Australian manufacturers have been forced to purchase men's imported caps. A memorandum setting out the position which has been handed to me, reads -

A special class of material is required for cap manufacturing, and the woollen mills have not been able to compete against the lowpriced shoddy tweeds used, therefore they have not been able to cater for the men's cap trade. However, since the introduction of the new tariff, patterns of cap tweeds have been submitted to the woollen manufacturers, with the result that four mills have already produced samples. Those quoted at 5s. 6d. per yard are considered by the cap manufacturers to be quite suitable, and they are prepared to use them, but cannot do so on account of the present tariff being so much to the benefit of imported men's caps made of shoddy material.

Men's caps recently landed by one .of the cap manufacturers from England cost, duty paid landed 26s. 6d, namely :- Price in England 12s. per dozen, plus duty and landing charges 14s. 6d. If the same manufacturer imported the tweed from which these caps were made, say at 3s. per yard 54 inches, the cost of material per dozen would be 7s. 6d., freight charges and present duty 7s. 9d., manufacturing cost into caps in Australia 20s. 3d., making a total cost (without profit) of 35s. 6d., whilst men's caps made in England of the same material are landed at 26s. 6d., or 9s. cheaper than what they can be made here for. If the Australian manufacturer used Australian cap tweeds at 5s. 6d., the cost of tweed (2£ yards) would be 13s. 9d., plus making-up charges 20s. 3d., total 34s., or 7s. 6d. dearer than the imported caps.

In regard to the imported caps referred to above, a duty of 12s. per dozen is included, so that if another 3s. per dozen were added to the 12s., and also an ad valorem duty of 35 per cent. (4s. Gd), the additional 7s. 6d. on to 26s. 6d. would bring the cost of the imported caps to 34s. as against 34s. For the Australian cap made of Australian cap tweed, which would result in Australian cap tweeds being used and woollen manufacturers adding cap tweeds to their new lines, whilst the importation of shoddy cap tweeds in the form of made-up caps would be prevented.

In the year 1921-22 the value of caps imported into Australia was £5,323, and for 1924-25 £27,691.

Senator Lynch - What is the value of the caps manufactured here?

Senator FINDLEY - Men's caps are made here, but only in limited quantities, because of the competition of imported caps made of shoddy material.

Senator Payne - No.

Senator FINDLEY - That is the opinion of men who are competent to give an opinion. For the protection of the woollen manufacturing industry we have imposed high duties on imported woollen materials. What is wrong in extending the same principle to those engaged in the manufacture of caps? The Minister would be well advised to assist me in placing this industry on a proper footing. It seems anomalous that we should be able to cater for the needs of the school boys in Australia by providing them with good woollen caps, whereas, because of the keen competition from overseas, we cannot make caps for our men. The Government professes to be anxious to help in every possible way the establishment of Australian industries. Here is an opportunity to do so. I ask the Minister to agree to make the duty on men's caps and sewn hats 15s. per dozen, or 35 per cent, ad valorem ; 17s. 6d. per dozen, or 40 per cent, ad valorem ; and 20s. per dozen, or 45 per cent, ad valorem, whichever rate returns the higher duty, British, intermediate, and general tariff respectively. I am not concerned greatly with the ad valorem percentage so long as adequate protection is given to the Australian manufacturers of caps.

Senator Crawford - I understood the honorable senator to say that there was ample protection in the case of boys' caps.

Senator FINDLEY - I make no complaint regarding them; they are made of wool .

Senator Crawford - Does the honorable senator desire a higher duty on boys' caps?

Senator FINDLEY - No. I understand that the manufacturers of boys' caps did not even approach the Tariff Board for an increased duty on such articles. They were satisfied with the protection already granted. But they are far from being satisfied with the existing protection in the case of men's caps.

Senator Thompson - If they can compete with imported boys' caps, why can they not do the same with men's caps ?

Senator FINDLEY - I have already explained that boys' caps are made entirely from wool, and that there is a high duty on woollen goods. The Australian manufacturers have captured the market for boys' caps ; but because of the material used in the manufacture of men's caps they cannot compete with the imported article. The way to get a better quality article is to prevent the importation of these caps.

Senator Crawford - What is the honorable senator's proposal ?

Senator FINDLEY - I should like to see a higher duty on men's caps. I ask the Minister to agree to a reduction in the duty on boys' caps and an increase in the duty on men's caps.

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