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Thursday, 23 April 1936


Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) . - While appreciating fully the earnestness of Senator Guthrie in bringing this subject before our notice to-day, I believe that he is somewhat pessimistic or overafraid in regard to the future of the wool industry in Australia. I cannot agree with his suggestion that that industry is in grave danger. I know the value of it to this country. I realize that it is our best industry, and that without it we should be in very grave difficulty. But I also know that, given a fair chance wherever warmth and comfort in clothing are important factors, . wool will more than hold its own against any substitute for it. Senator Guthrie's fear seems to be that the artificial fibres from which is produced the material generally known as rayon - although rayon, I should say, embraces possibly 100 distinct varieties of textile goods - will prove a serious competitor of wool. I do not think that that is likely to happen. I have not had the opportunity to inspect the material most recently produced from wood fibre, which, I understand, is professedly the nearest approach to wool of any material on the market to-day.


Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - It is an alarming production.


Senator PAYNE - It is in appearance. Although I have gathered all the information I could procure, I have not seen this particular commodity; but I daresay that it is a very fair representation of woollen material. From what I have been able to learn, however, any person who is accustomed to wearing a purely woollen garment, would quickly notice the difference between it and the substitute. One of the greatest obstacles against a much larger use of woollen goods in Australia - I voiced this opinion some time ago in a debate that I well remember - has been the inefficiency of the Australian manufacturers of those goods. Wool is of no use to any person except in the manufactured form. A perusal of the statistics will show that the maintenance of our exports of wool to Great Britain has been assured by reason of the fact that the British manufacturer who utilizes our wool as the basis of his production, sees to it that the finished article will give every satisfaction, whereas, unfortunately, the reverse was the case some years ago in regard to goods manufactured in Australia, with the exception of blankets, flannels, and a certain class of tweeds. I am glad to know, from personal observation and experience, that some of our manufacturers learnt the lesson they were taught and considerably improved the quality of their output. Wool has peculiar properties. In the first place, it is extremely comforting to wear, especially in cold climates. But in the next place it has the disadvantage that, unless properly treated until manufactured, it will so shrink that people of small means cannot afford to purchase it. The British manufacturer and the manufacturer of the northern provinces of France, have been more than able to hold their own throughout the world in this regard ; they have learnt the art of so treating the yarn that in its manufactured state itwill give satisfactory wear and will not shrink to any appreciable extent. A little while ago I had the privilege of visiting another country, in which I was gratified to find that wool is coming much into favour. That country, which is one of our good customers for wool, is producing from it certain garments equal in quality to anything produced in Australia. It appears to me that its people have been induced to realize the value of woollen clothing, and each year the use of it is growing remarkably. I do not think we have very much to fear except in the direction of a temporary setback, while wool substitutes are being experimented with by the public. I should not go so far as to denounce the use by the people of textiles generally referred to as rayon. The people of Australia, particularly the poorer class, have benefited wonderfully from its production, because the price of it is within the reach of their purchasing power. It is just as attractive as silk, and costs probably no more than one-third of what has to be paid for silk.

Let us consider the matter from another viewpoint. If Providence has provided a raw material which, by the exercise of human intelligence and. ingenuity, may be converted into something that is useful to humanity, we should not be true to our trust if we did not use it, especially if it brings comfort to millions of people who are not in a position to purchase other materials. I quite agree with Senator Guthrie that it is advisable to leave no stone unturned to keep before the people of the world the fact that wool provides the best basis for comfortable clothing. If we do that we shall do all that Ave can to assist the Australian wool industry.

I wish to direct the attention of the Senate to an alarming inconsistency which lias been prevalent in Australia for some years. We have professedly endeavoured to do everything possible to assist this great primary industry. We have sought to cultivate trade with other countries in. the hope that each year our exports of wool would increase. Yet at the same time, Ave have imposed embargoes upon the introduction into Australia of goods manufactured from the very WOOl that we have supplied. We cannot have it both ways. If Ave wish to sell our wool to Great Britain, and Great Britain oan produce from it materials that Ave can use, how can Ave justify our request for larger purchases if we make the tariff Avail so high that the British manufacturer cannot scale it?


Senator Leckie - The Australian manufacturer uses Australian WOO


Senator PAYNE - Of course he does. I refer to this as a glaring inconsistency in our desire to enlarge the market for our wool abroad. What inducement can we offer for the purchase of our WOOl if we are not prepared to buy some of the goods which are manufactured from that. wool? The local purchases of our WOOl output represent only 20 per cent, or less of our total output, and we are thus dependent on other countries for the marketing of the balance. I trust that the ventilation of this matter will result in every effort being made to give all publicity possible to the value of our wool when manufactured into clothing and other materials. I am confident that, if the manufacturers of Australia will only strive to produce a quality upon which the people can really depend, the result obtained in Great Britain will be repeated in this country. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) has referred to - what occurred in the United States of America. He could not have given that illustration but for the fact that the British manufacturer makes the best of his industry. If Ave act similarly, Ave shall be able to induce the people of

Australia to use more wool in the future than they have used in the past.


Senator Arkins - But when that object has been achieved, who outside Australia will buy the Australian product?


Senator PAYNE - I am referring to what is produced for Australian use. I hope that the debate on this very important subject will be the means of helping materially this great industry on which we depend so much.







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