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Thursday, 10 June 1926

Senator CRAWFORD (Queensland) (Honorary Minister) . - I shall not follow the example of Senator Payne and exhaust my time in discussing his request, because practically everything I have said in regard to shoddy goods applies with equal force to imported cotton tweeds. The honorable senator has based the whole of his argument upon the entirely erroneous assumption that the amount of duty will be added to the cost of every pair of trousers made from Australian cotton tweed.

Senator Needham - Is the honorable senator suggesting that the imported cotton tweeds are shoddy ?

Senator CRAWFORD - I have not applied the term " shoddy " to cotton tweeds, although I understand that a big proportion of those which were imported before these duties were imposed was of a decidedly inferior quality, and came from some of the cheap labour countries of the world. The Customs Department has an assurance from the manufacturers that the additional cost of a pair of trousers made from Australian cotton tweed under the protection afforded in this schedule will not amount to more than 6d. Surely no one would begrudge paying an extra 6d. a pair for these trousers when the cotton used in them is grown by Australian farmers, and the yarn spun and cloth woven by Australian operatives.

Senator Payne - The manufacturers will have to reduce their price by at least one-third to carry out their undertaking to the department.

Senator Graham - They have not reduced the quality of their tweeds.

Senator CRAWFORD - The quality is in the goods they turn out.

Senator Payne - Every sample of English cotton tweeds I have submitted is of equal quality to the Australian.

Senator CRAWFORD - On examining a number of samples of Australian cotton tweeds I was surprised to notice their splendid quality, and the very reasonable price at which they were being sold. Before the increased tariff came into operation large quantities of cotton tweeds were imported and were coming into serious competition with the woollen goods manufactured in Australia. A large quantity of cotton tweeds will still be used for men's clothing ; but I understand that the Australian mills are prepared to produce whatever quantity may be required. Two mills have each undertaken to supply 1,000,000 yards annually. Australian cotton tweeds will come into competition with denims, dungarees and khaki, which are admitted free. In the northern parts of Queensland, khaki is extensively used for cotton trousers, and this material, which is admitted free of duty, will always come into strong competition with cotton tweed produced in Australia. I feel confident that on this item honorable senators will vote as they did on Senator Payne's amendment relating to duties on cheap woollens.

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