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Wednesday, 14 March 1928

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) . - We have had a long and interesting discussion on this item. It would appear that some honorable senators have more consideration for and sympathy with overseas firms than they have for Australian manufacturers. This afternoon we heard Senator Chapman pleading for " dear old mother England." That is a fine patriotic sentiment; but as a representative of the Australian people, I conceive it to be my duty to encourage, by high duties, the establishment of industries in Australia.

Senator Chapman - If local prices are increased unduly, other industries are affected.

Senator FINDLEY - Is it not a fact that We have given, by way of a bounty, on Australian wine, what is in effect equal to a fixed duty of 300 per cent? That is of special interest to South Australia. Did Senator Chapman object? I wonder if we shall see Senator Payne frothing at the mouth about the high duties on timber - designed to protect, among others, the sawmillers of Tasmania - when we come to those items in the schedule. It is true, as Senator Greene has said, that a flat-rate of duty is absolutely essential to encourage Australian industries. I have in my possession a sample of a lady's undervest, made in Australia by Australian workers from Australian cotton. A year or two ago there was imposed on this article, an ad valorem duty of 30 per cent., and a flat rate of ls. each, British preferential tariff, and a flat rate of 2s. each and an ad valorem duty of 45 per cent, under the general tariff. I have not had time to look up the debates when those items were under discussion, but I have no doubt that Senator Payne said then, as he says now, in regard to the new duties on cotton socks, that the proposals of the Government would increase the cost of that article.

Mr GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is what he said.

Senator FINDLEY - What has been the net result of those high duties? They have given encouragement to the industry, which is now established in New, South Wales, with the result that the wholesale price of the article is ls. 2d., and the retail price from ls. 6d. to ls. 9d. each, a good deal less than the flat rate duty. I am satisfied that our experience in regard to women's cotton undervests will be repeated in connexion with the manufacture of cotton socks in Australia, as well as other articles dealt with in this schedule. I never hesitate to vote for the highest protection being given to Australian industries, and I find it difficult to follow the logic of certain honorable senators opposite in these tariff debates. Senator Chapman is consistent only in his inconsistency. The same remark may be applied to Senator Payne. I should like all honorable senators to be con:sistent in their attitude towards this schedule. If high duties on imported cotton socks are harmful to the general community, then high duties on other commodities ' must likewise be harmful.

Senator Payne - Does the- honorable senator ignore the heavier burden which these duties will place upon the poorer sections of the people?

Senator FINDLEY - I am more concerned about that section of the people, which I endeavour honestly to represent in this chamber, than is Senator Payne. It will be interesting to note his attitude when we are discussing the new timber duties. Of course, we shall be- told by opponents of the Government's proposals that they will add to the cost of housing. I do not share that view. The Government can rely on my support for all duties that are likely to encourage Australian industry. I hope, therefore, that the committee will pass the item as it stands.

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