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Friday, 4 June 1926

Senator DUNCAN (New South Wales) .- I move -

That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (a) read as follows : - " (a) (1) Carpets, carpeting, floor rugs, floor and carriage mats, not exceeding 36 inches in width, of wool, jute, or any other textile material excepting coir, carpet felt and undercarpet felt, ad valorem, 10 per cent. British, 15 per cent. intermediate, 25 per cent. general.

(2)   Carpets, carpeting, floor cloths, n.e.i., floor and carriage mats, n.e.i., of any textile material except coir; and floor rugs and coverings, n.e.i., not being of rubber and not being furs or other skins or carpet felt, undercarpet felt, or carpet felt paper; saddlebag in the piece or otherwise, ad valorem, free British, 10 per cent. intermediate, 15 per cent. general.

Under the 1921 tariff carpets were protected to the extent of 10 per cent. British, 15 per cent. intermediate, and 25 per cent. general. The Government's proposal is to remove the duty on British carpets, and reduce the general tariff from 25 per cent. to 15 per cent. I understand that when the Tariff Board inquired into this industry it was advised that no carpets or floor coverings were being manufactured in Australia. That is not so. For the last two or three years a factory in New South Wales has been producing some excellent carpets. I do not desire to make any invidious comparisons between the Australian product and imports from overseas. I do not wish to say anything derogatory to the products of the Motherland. I content myself with saying that the articles being turned out by the Australian factory in large quantities are as good as, if not better than, similar commodities that are being imported. It is not desired that the duty shall apply to those carpets and mats that are not being made in Australia. We do not want to force people who prefer to buy that class of goods to pay an increased price due to the imposition of Customs duties merely for the protection of a different branch of the industry. Those connected with this Australian enterprise will be satisfied with tariff protection on the lines they manufacture. When I consider the protection asked in respect of other items in the schedule, I blush at my own modesty in proposing that, in this item, the duties be 10 per cent. British, 15 per cent, intermediate, and 25 per cent, general, and I am satisfied that there will be little, if any, opposition. I understand that the Minister is prepared to accept my proposal, which will give the necessary protection to a bona fide Australian industry that is producing a firstclass article. It will enable it to meet the competition in jute goods of a similar nature from other countries. If this Australian enterprise develops, as it is anticipated it will develop, and subsequently begins the manufacture of other classes of floor coverings and carpets, I have no doubt that it will then be accorded the necessary protection.

Senator Lynch - Do the manufacturers consider 10 per cent., sufficient protection 1

Senator DUNCAN - That was the rate of duty under which the industry was established, and, although those identified with it would like a higher rate, I have, after consultation with the Minister, effected a compromise. They are satisfied that they will be able to carry on and develop their business under this measure of protection.

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