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Friday, 9 March 1928

Senator CHAPMAN (South Australia) . - There has been some discussion in committee concerning the effect of a flat rate of duty, and the conditions under which these duties are imposed. The Minister to-day carried a request that under item 105, piece-goods, certain material weighing more than 6 oz. per square yard be dutiable at an ad valorem rate or at per square yard ls. British, ls. 6d. intermediate, and 2s. general tariff, whichever rate returns the higher duty. I am sure honorable senators do not realize the exact effect of duties fixed on that basis. The same principle is applied to cotton socks and . stockings for which the ad valorem .duties imposed are 30 per cent. British, 40 per cent. inter mediate, and 45 per cent, general tariff, or per dozen 6s. British, 8s. intermediate, arid 10s. general tariff, whichever rate returns the higher duty. For woollen socks and stockings, or socks and stockings containing wool the rates are 45 per cent. British, 55 per cent, intermediate, and 60 per cent, general tariff; or, per dozen, 8s. British, 10s. intermediate, and 12s. general tariff, whichever rate returns the higher duty. For such articles of silk or containing silk but not containing wool and n.e.i., the rates are 35 per cent. British, 45 per cent, intermediate, and 50 per cent, general; or, per dozen, 7s. British, 9s. intermediate, and lis. general tariff, whichever rate returns the higher duty. These flat rate duties are fairly high, and I contend that very few honorable senators realize their, actual effect. I submit for the information of the committee an exhibit marked " D " of "Mazol" children's unshrinkable cotton and woollen socks made in England, the invoice price of which is 8s. a dozen, and the flat rate of duty 8s. per dozen. The landed cost was 12s. 10d. a dozen, but under the new duty it is 17s. 7d. a dozen. The flat rate of duty under these proposals is 8s. a dozen, which is equivalent to 100 per cent, on children's socks of British manufacture. I also submit a sample of children's socks of all wool made in England, the invoice price of which is 5s. 9d. per dozen and the flat rate of duty 8s. per dozen, which is considerably over 100 per cent. Sitting suspended from 12.1^ to 2.15 p.m.

Senator CHAPMAN - By way of interjection, an honorable- senator asks why Australian socks are not bought. I point out that whereas the local manufacturer can obtain his supplies of wool on the spot, the English manufacturer is obliged to pay freight both ways, wharfage dues at each end, shipping and other charges, and the duty. Thus the Australian manufacturer is placed at a distinct advantage, and he should be able to manufacture hosiery in competition with the English manufacturer without the assistance of a 100 per cent, tariff. I have already given particulars of certain lines of socks; but I still have other lines. One is a man's sock of English manufacture, which is worn by working men and farmers in the country. The invoice price is 5s. 9d., and upon it there is a flat rate duty of 8s. a dozen. This line is peculiarly suitable for use by men, whose work is such that they require a cheap sock. The landed price previously was 9s. 7d. a dozen, but under the new duty it is 14s. 9d. a dozen. I am not advocating the cause of the foreigner, but it is well that honorable senators should be made acquainted with the position. The invoice price of a foreign manufacture sock that I have in my hand is 2s. 8-Jd. a dozen. Under the old duty it was lauded in Australia for 4s. a dozen. The landed price under the new duty is no less than 12s. lid. a dozen, the duty amounting to over 300 per cent.

Mr GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - At what price are they sold to the public?

Senator CHAPMAN - Importers who have to pay the extra duty must naturally add it to the price which they charge the consumer. I have not troubled to obtain particulars of the retail prices.

Senator PAYNE - The retail price of that line is 6d. a pair.

Senator Graham - Where were they made ?

Senator CHAPMAN - I understand that it is a Japanese sock. I have particulars also of a child's sock that is made in Germany. In times gone by, my. children wore socks, the quality of which was no better than this. The invoice price is 5s. Id. a dozen.. The landed price until recently was 8s. 8d. a dozen, but under, the new duty it is 16s. 2d. The flat rate of duty is 10s. a dozen. Thus we are asked to pay a duty of 200 per cent, greater than the price at which the article is invoiced.

Mr GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - We are not compelled to pay it.

Senator CHAPMAN - Australia cannot be absolutely self-contained. Although I admit the necessity to build up industries,' can we afford to do so by placing a 100 per cent, duty on British goods,, and a 300 per cent, duty on foreign goods? Only a prohibitionist would vote for such duties.

Senator Crawford - We built up the wine industry with a 600 per cent. duty.

Senator CHAPMAN -In addition to all the other costs and charges that have to be borne by. primary industries, our wine producers are saddled with a tremendous excise which other industries have not to pay.

I wish to place before honorable senators evidence that was given before the Tariff Board in Melbourne, by Mr. Hedley Goode, representative of the Wholesale Softgoods' Association of South Australia. ' He said -

The Wholesale Softgoods' Distributors of South Australia are opposed to a flat rate of duty because they believe it will unduly increase the price of certain lines of hosiery and, incidentally, the cost of living, will prevent the public getting certain lines of hosiery that they require, and severely penalize them. It is our opinion that the Australian manufacturers of hosiery are not at present in a position to supply the needs of the buying public of Australia, both as regards quantity and fashion, and the imposition of a flat rate will have the effect of absolutely prohibiting the importation of a quantity of hosiery goods that will be required. Our experience in the past is that when samples of hose or half-hose that are in demand are produced, the output of the Australian factories is, in many instances, taken up before we in Adelaide have samples submitted to us, and it is not until the wants of the eastern States are filled that we have the opportunity of buying Australian-made goods that happen to be greatly in demand.

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