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Friday, 4 June 1926

Senator ANDREW (Victoria) - I have listened with considerable interest to the opinions expressed by honorable senators. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham), who, when speaking on the second reading of the bill, said that he believed in industries being protected for ten or fifteen years, but that thereafter they should be able to continue without additional protection, is prepared in this case to vote for increased duties.

Senator Needham - That is not what I said.

Senator ANDREW - Senator Grant, another member of the Labour party, declares that he is opposed to the policy of protection, . yet on every occasion he supports higher dutiesSenator Findley has, however, been consistent in his attitude. It is surprising to find honorable senators supporting the interests of the manufacturers and entirely disregarding the claims of the consumers. Unfortunately, that important section of the community is not represented on the Tariff Board, but I think it is the duty of the Government to provide some means by which its representations may be heard.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Kingsmill - I must ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the sub-item before the committee.

Senator ANDREW - A majority of the Australian people favour fairly high protection, and in this instance, Senator Findley has moved a request to reduce the duty on boys' caps, and to increase the rates on men's caps. It. appears to me that the protection already afforded to the manufacturers of men's caps, which already are mad© in Australia, is adequate, but that manufacturers who can get the ear of Ministers or certain honorable senators have an excellent opportunity of obtaining even higher protection. The articles under consideration will, no doubt, be machine sewn.

In the town in which I live a sewing machine factory has been established, but it has received no assistance.

Senator Graham - It is doing good work.

Senator ANDREW - It was, but, unfortunately, it has been strangled. The representatives of the industry . appeared before the Tariff Board, and the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), the Comptroller-General of Customs, and the accountant in the Department of Trade and Customs visited the factory. After a most careful investigation into the industry had been made, a promise was . given that it would receive adequate protection. In the first place, a deferred duty was proposed, and the payment of a bounty was also considered, but up to the present, the only notification received from the authorities is that the matter will be brought before Cabinet. The factory is now closing down, and the unfortunate workmen, who have not been paid for the last fortnight's work, are being thrown out of employment. Capital will not be invested in such an industry until investors are assured that it will receive adequate protection. The factory to which I . refer is the only one of its kindin Australia, and . as everything but the bobbins . and needles are produced locally, surely it should be encouraged by means of a bounty. This has been done without any assistance. The industry should be encouraged by means of a bounty until it is properly established. People who are in poor circumstances require a reasonable respite from high protection. That applies with particular force to widows who have children to maintain.

Senator Crawford - What about widows' daughters, who secure employment in our factories?

Senator ANDREW - Frequently, if it were not for the efforts of their daughters, widows would have nothing.

Senator Needham - That is an old gag-

Senator ANDREW - It may be; but it is voiced by a young man. For fifteen years I have belonged to an institution which feeds between 400 and 500 starving children every week. Should not the parents of those children be enabled to purchase the necessary food and clothing for them?

Senator McHugh - If there were a sufficient amount of work for those parents, institutions such as that to which the honorable senator has referred would not be necessary.

Senator ANDREW - If any honorable senator will join me at 7 o'clock tomorrow morning, I will show him, between that hour and 12 o'clock, an example of what is done every week in feeding these unfortunate children. On behalf of their parents and the people generally, I appeal to honorable senators not to further increase the cost of Irving by imposing excessive duties, even on caps. Australia could get along very well with a moderate measure of protection. If, as Senator Needham says, a reasonable amount of protection is not sufficient, let the industry go. The Government made a very temperate proposal, but they have agreed to accept Senator Findley's suggestion to increase it. I consider that the item, as it stands, is sufficient to build up that industry, and I shall, therefore, support it.

Senator Payne - I ask that the request be put to the committee in two parts.

Senator Findley - I object to that.

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