Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 4 June 1926

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) . - I hope the request will be agreed to.

Senator Guthrie - The honorable senator wants to close up all our hosiery factories.

Senator PAYNE - I do not.

Senator Guthrie - That is what will happen if Senator Lynch' s requested amendment is carried.

Senator PAYNE - This proposal ought to be considered from a commonsense point of view. I want honorable senators to go back to 1921, when, in face of a great deal of opposition, the British duty on socks and stockings containing wool was increased to 35per cent. There was a great deal of opposition to the proposed increase to 45 per cent. British. Notwithstanding that it was shown clearly that the imposition of a duty of 35 per cent.., as against the previous duty of 25 per cent., would only have the effect of increasing the cost to the people, the extra duty was agreed to, the Government of the day, believingthat that protection would be ample to enable the hosiery manufacturers of Australia to command a fair proportion of the trade. It is now proposed to further increase the duty. If the object is to prevent the importation of British hosiery, it will fail.

Senator Guthrie - The duty is not high enough.

Senator PAYNE - The duty would have to be 100 per cent. to keep out the British article. I say nothing against any industry in Australia which is conducted in an efficient manner; but I say unhesitatingly that the reason why the trade of certain Australian hosiery factories has decreased is that their product has not given satisfaction to the wearers.

Senator Guthrie - Does the honorable senator say that knitted underclothing made in Australia is not of good quality ?

Senator Drake-Brockman - It is of better quality than any other that I have seen.

Senator PAYNE - I have not made that statement rashly. I am giving the result, not only of my own experience, but also of many others. The reason for the decline in the trade of some Australian hosiery manufactories is the unsatisfactory articles which they produce.

Senator Millen - Is it not rather due to their shape?

Senator PAYNE - No. I give place to no honorable senator as a judge of textiles. Some time ago I bought some Australianmade articles of clothing which were of' good texture and appearance. They were made of pure merino wool. As I am not a small man, I obtained the largest size made, and when I first wore them they fitted me. But after five washings - not at a laundry, but at home, by the most approved method - they were not large enough to fit Senator Hoare. I also bought some Australian-made cashmere half hose, measuring11½ inches along the foot. After four washings those socks were only 9½ inches long. I interviewed the secretary of the factory which made them, and told him that I had heard that he had represented that the reason the production of his factory had diminished was that British hosiery had been dumped in Australia, but that the real reason for the decline of trade was that the workers had not learned the art of shrinking the yarn before manufacturing it into garments. I received the reply that I did not know what I was talking about. If the Australian factories will produce an article which will give satisfaction to the wearers, it will find a ready sale. The effect of this higher duty will be to increase the price of "hosiery made in Great Britain by6d. or 9d. a pair. But it will not decrease the quantity sold to Australian people. Increased duties will give no greater protection to the Australian manufacturers. I do not say that every Australian factory turns out unsatisfactory hosiery. Some of them produce excellent articles.

Senator Duncan - The honorable senator should buy the products of Bond's factory.

Senator PAYNE - They do not make woollen goods. I bought garments from the mills that I have mentioned because I was a shareholder in the company; but since the experience to which I have referred I have purchased no further goods made in that factory. I hope that by this time they have overcome their troubles. I wish them success. But higher duties will not increase their turnover. They will increase the cost of imported hosiery without protecting the local industry.

Senator Crawford - Since the additional duties have been in operation, Australian factories have engaged some hundreds of additional employees.

Senator PAYNE - A protection of 30 per cent. or 35 per cent. is ample so long as the goods turned out by Australian factories are satisfactory. A duty of 35 per cent. gives an effective protection of about 45 per cent., when we consider the natural protection afforded by reason of freight and other charges on the imported article.

Senator Crawford - That is not so. It costs as much to send goods from Mel bourne to Hobart or Brisbane as to bring them from Great Britain. Does the honorable senator think that the product of the Victorian mills is sold only in Melbourne?

Senator PAYNE - I am not referring to the cost of these goods in Brisbane or in Hobart, but to the prices charged for them in Victoria and New South Wales.

Senator Guthrie -Does the honorable senator support increased duties on woollen yarn ?

Senator PAYNE - Having read a great deal of the evidence submitted in favour of these increased duties, I am of the opinion that the recommendation of the Tariff Board was, to a great extent, based on the charge that British hosiery had been dumped into Australia. I do not believe that there is anything in the charge that British hosiery manufacturers supplied Australians with manufactured articles at a price less than the cost of the material used.

Senator Guthrie - That it was done two years ago was proved conclusively before the Tariff Board.

Senator PAYNE - I shall not believe that statement on the word of any one individual. I shall require proof before believing it. It is farcical to suggest that any business man would do what has been suggested. He could not afford to do so. I could understand the manufacturer of a commodity which had gone out of fashion sacrificing it to get rid of it. Brat that is not the case with hosiery, which is in continual demand. I enter my emphatic protest against this additional duty. It is not necessary for the development of Australian industries. All that is needed is that Australian manufacturers shall produce satisfactory articles. Many of them are doing so. So far as I know, everything which I am now wearing is of Australian manufacture. I buy Australian goods when I can; but in view of the experience to which I have referred I now carefully avoid purchasing certain brands of Australian made clothing. A man cannot afford to buy unsatisfactory garments. The committee would be well advised to agree to the request moved by Senator Lynch.

Suggest corrections