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Tuesday, 5 May 1936

Senator FOLL (Queensland) .- Senator Payneoverlooked the fact that these duties are imposed for a dual pur pose - to assist not only the cotton manufacturing industry, but also the cottongrowing industry in Queensland. The Tariff Board thoroughly investigated the primary phase of this industry; the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) visited the areas where cotton-growing is being carried on under most difficult conditions on land which would be totally unsuitable for any other form of agriculture. Protection was granted to the manufacturers of cotton goods to assist the consumption in Australia of the local cotton production. Last year this crop totalled approximately 14,000 bales; most of which was marketed in Australia at a low price, but one which with the bounty gave some return to the growers. This is the result of an arrangement entered into with the cotton manufacturers in Australia.

Senator Duncan-Hughes - Is any portion of the cotton crop exported?

SenatorFOLL. - Only a small portion. Last year a quantity was purchased by Japan. The exportable portion is disposed of at a very low price,but the remainder naturally fetches a better figure on the home market, because the bounty is paid on local requirements plus 20 per cent.

Senator Guthrie - How much raw cotton can be used in Australia?

SenatorFOLL. - Last year the manufacturers were supplied with about 13,000 bales, leaving 900 bales to be exported. When speaking on the second reading of this bill, Senator Guthrie expressed the opinion that the resumption of migration in Australia depended to a large extent on whether overseas manufacturers could be induced to establish factories in the Commonwealth. That was an excellent thought. Senator Payne referred to the Bradford Cotton Mills. I point out that these mills were established in Australia under conditions identical with those to which Senator Guthrie referred. Practically a complete plant for the manufacture of cotton was transferred from Yorkshire to Sydney by the Keightley Brothers; to-day it is one of the most up-to-date cotton spinning plants in the world. It is absolutely necessary for a certain amount of protection to be given to the produce of this enterprise to enable it to survive.

I believe that, when Sir Henry Gullett was Minister for Trade and Customs, an invitation was sent to overseas manufacturers of cotton piece-goods to establish their- factories in Australia. I well .remember the debates which have taken place on the manufacture of cotton tweeds, back to the time when the late Mr. Pratten was Minister for Trade and Customs. The duties imposed by him enabled this industry to be established in Australia. Cotton tweeds have been manufactured in Australia for many years at a reasonable price, and the goods themselves have been of praiseworthy quality. If one industry above all others has been thoroughly investigated by the Tariff Board, it is the production and manufacture of cotton in Australia. After that complete investigation it would be most serious for the Senate, now that the industry is established, and in view of the fact that no protests against the duties have : been made by overseas manufacturers, alleging a violation of the Ottawa agreement, to take any action which might be injurious to the industry.

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