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Wednesday, 14 March 1928

Senator FOLL (Queensland) .-- It is strange that some honorable senators should raise such strong objections to the imposition of flat rates ot duty under this item when there are numerous other items in the schedule on which similar duties are imposed. As Senator Greene said, flat rates of duty have been imposed in all the tariff schedules introduced during recent years. We are indebted to the honorable senator, who was one of the most successful Ministers for Trade and Customs we have ever had, for pointing out that duties fixed on a percentage basis, are, in some cases useless.

Senator Chapman - But this means absolute prohibition.

Senator FOLL - Not at all. As Senator Greene said, goods are sometimes exported to Australia and sold below the cost of production, and in the absence of flat rates of duty it is impossible to

Senator Payne - Those garments are not dealt with under this item.

Senator FOLL - I know that; but I am -merely using this as an illustration of the point I am making. Why does the honorable senator say that flat rates of duty should not apply to socks and stockings, when there are other items under which similar duties are imposed ? He should be consistent.

Senator Payne - This is the first item in the schedule on which a flat rate is imposed;

Senator FOLL - The same system is provided for in other divisions of the schedule.

Senator Payne - I have not yet had an opportunity to protest against the flat rates of duty imposed under other items.

Senator FOLL - The wholesale price of the garment, which I produce, and which consists of artificial silk and cotton, is ls. 8d. The retail price is 2s. 6d., and the flat rate of duty is 2s. 6d. each, or 30 per cent. Notwithstanding this, Senator Payne is protesting against a flat rate of duty on socks and stockings which is very much less than the duty on this garment.

Senator Payne - Did I not protest last year against the flat rates of duty then imposed ?

Senator FOLL - I contend that the honorable senator is adopting an inconsistent attitude because flat rates of duty are imposed on other articles.

Senator Payne - Yes; but they have not yet been considered by the committee. I am not inconsistent.

Senator FOLL - Flat rates are imposed on sizes 3 to 13 of these garments, and of course as the size increases the prices are higher.

Senator Payne - What is the rate of duty on size 9?

Senator FOLL - Four shillings and sixpence each, or 45 per cent., and the retail price of the article is 3s. lid. That disposes of the argument of Senator Chapman, who said that when a duty is increased the price of the locally produced article also increases. In this case a locally manufactured article is being sold at 20 per cent, less than the duty.

Senator Duncan - Without taking into consideration the cost of the raw material.

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