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Tuesday, 5 May 1936

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Postmaster-General) . - These duties have been in operation since 1934, and, so I am instructed, have enabled the Australian industry to make satisfactory progress. The sales of all protected yarns by spinners and the usings in their own fabricating plants of yarns made by spinners from the 1st July, 1935, to the 29th February, 1936, have been at the rate of 8,111,000 lb. per annum. As there is a wastage of about 10 per cent, in the manufacture of raw cotton into yarn, the quantity of raw cotton required for the production of the consumption of protected cotton yarns during .1935-36 will be approximately 9,000,000 lb., which is moro than the maximum production in any one year of the Queensland cotton industry.

Imports of yarns during 1935-36 to the end of February have been at the rate of 1,640,000 lb. per annum, so spinners can be said to be supplying about 83 per cent. if the local demand. This percentage s interesting by reason of the fact that the Tariff Board, in assessing the cost of protecting the cotton and allied industries, assumed that spinners would secure about 81 1/2 per cent, of the local market. Inquiries by the department show that the consumption of cotton yarn represented by sales and spinners' own usings, was 4,825,000 lb. in 3933-34- -the year before the protective duties were extended te lie new yarns and piece goods - whereas the 1935-36 consumption has been at the rate of 8,111,000 lb., representing an increase of 68 per cent. These figures show that the cotton spinning and weaving industries, as .well as the cottongrowing industry, are reaping considerable advantage from the protective duties which this Government has seen fit to impose. I therefore ask the committee not to disturb them. If, as Senator Leckie has stated, they are doing injury to the Australian industry, the matter should be brought to the notice of the Minister or the Comptroller-General of Customs, and. I can assure him that without loss of time it will be referred to the Tariff Board.

Senator Leckie - That would lead to an increase of the duty and therefore would be regarded as an infringement of the Ottawa agreement.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Not if the Tariff Board, after inquiry, recommended an increase. To say that the Australian industry has been penalized by these duties, ds to entirely misrepresent the position. The matter mentioned by Senator Collings has nothing to do with the British preferential rate. I am not at liberty to discuss the effect on foreign countries.

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