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Thursday, 3 June 1926

Senator ELLIOTT (Victoria) .- Senator Findleyis well aware that a conference is now being held to consider a log for employees in the woollen trade, which, if granted, will render necessary a further increase in these duties.

Senator Grant - That is part of the circle.

Senator ELLIOTT - If the men were engaged under adverse conditions, or at low wages, I should readily support the request for an extra duty, but we have to consider the men who are struggling on the land.

Senator Crawford - I do not think the men on the land wear caps.

Senator ELLIOTT - They wear clothing. We must recognize that there is a limit to what the country can stand. The Government adopts the attitude that, so long aa it is shown that local wages and conditions prevent our manufacturers from competing with those overseas, they are entitled to a duty. Surely the Tariff Board ought to inform us of the conditions, so that we may compare them with those which are enjoyed by other classes in the community. The employers and employees in conference decide to fix a higher wage and to pass the extra cost on to the consumer in the form of an increase in the duty. That cannot continue for ever. Senator Findley went so far as to say that my attitude this afternoon indicated a desire on my part to reduce wages. That is not so. If honorable senators opposite can show that the conditions of employment of those who work in this industry are bad I shall enthusiastically support them in this request. That, however, is not- the case. So far as I have been able to gather, they are among the highest-paid workmen in Australia to-day. I am not disposed at present to support a higher duty than that proposed by the -Government.

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