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Thursday, 10 June 1926

Senator GUTHRIE (Victoria) . - I direct attention to the duties in subitem d, on yarns, silk, or silk in admixture with artificial silk, but not including yarns composed wholly of artificial silk. I should like to see the duties reduced by 5 per cent. There is no such material as artificial silk. It is technically known as rayon, and is an imitation silk made from wood pulp provided by Scandinavia at 2d. per lb. Courlands Limited have a monopoly of the manufacture of this material in Britain, and last year they made a profit of close on £5,000,000. It is really a rubbishy material got up very attractively, but its use is prejudicial to the great woollen industry of Australia. This so-called artificial silk is a vegetable matter. It is a conductor of both heat and cold, and it is very inflammable. It is also very unhealthy. Yet it is relatively dear on account of the brilliant dyes that it takes and which appear to fascinate women folk. Last year this rubbish known as " rayon " displaced 500,000 bales of Australian merino wool in the manufacturing industries of the world. In England, at any rate, its manufacture is the monopoly of a big combine that has a capital of £20,000,000 - which, I understand, is to be increased to £80,000,000- and made a net profit last year of nearly £5,000,000. I do not see any necessity for the importation of this so-called artificial silk into Australia. It competes with real silk, and with cotton stockings made by Bond's and other Australian firms, and with the whole of the knitting industries of this country, particularly in the manufacture of ladies' stockings, dresses, and underwear of all descriptions.

Senator Payne - Is not artificial silk used in Australia?

Senator GUTHRIE - I do not think it is largely used. I do not object to lowering the duty on the yarn ; but I am now dealing with the fabric.

Senator Crawford - I think that the honorable senator's observations apply really to item 105, consideration of which was postponed. The item under consideration deals wholly with yarns.

Senator Drake-Brockman - I have already given notice of a request on that item which will meet Senator Guthrie's objections.

Senator GUTHRIE - Very well.

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