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Thursday, 14 May 1936

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the item under discussion.

Senator COLLINGS - I have visited the works of the Australian Glass Manufacturers Company Limited, which some honorable senators have said is making huge profits at the expense of the Australian consumers. Is it suggested that these profits, which I shall deal with later, are made out of cut glass or sheet glass. Are not honorable senators aware that this company is conducting successfully other subsidiary industries in order to maintain its output ? For instance, it has established a tongue-processing department, the products of which are placed in glass containers. This undertaking was established with the object not of competing with similar industries, but because it is determined to produce an article which the community requires, and at the same time provide greater scope for marketing its hygienic glass food containers. The company has also established engineering works necessary for the carrying on of other branches of the industry. I understand that the company's shares are quoted at about 89s. 6d., but I have yet to learn that this Government, and those who support it, not only in this Parliament, but also outside, have held up their hands in holy horror at profit-making by other concerns. In view of the statements made by the representatives of the Government, and some of its supporters, we are correct in assuming that a concern operating at a loss is a " backyard " industry and unworthy of support, but an efficient industry that is showing a profit must be subjected to the most severe competition. Some time ago I wished to present a lady, about to be married, with a gift, and I visited Farmers Limited, in Sydney, with the object of making a suitable purchase. Realizing my state of perpetual impecuniosity, I was not prepared to spend an exorbitant sum, and finally decided that a cut glass article would be suitable.

Senator Arkins - Why did not the honorable senator go to Woolworths?

Senator COLLINGS - I am not sufficiently anti-Australian to visit either Woolworths or Coles, because I know that a large percentage of the goods they sell are imported from foreign countries where the labour conditions, wages and general standards of living are rotten.

I asked to see some glassware, and was shown some Stuart crystal and other makes' which I cannot recall. I gave them a flick, as is customary when testing glass, and found that the quality appeared to be satisfactory. I then asked if the shop did not stock Australian glass. I was then shown a similar article made by the Australian Glass Manufacturers Company Limited, and it would have been difficult for an expert to distinguish the difference between the imported and Australian products. I purchased an article produced locally and despatched it to the lady, who was very proud of it, particularly as it was made in Sydney. Those who have inspected this company's products must admit that they are of the highest standard, and that the prices at which they are retailed to the public are reasonable. I have not spoken on many of the items in the schedule, but I cannot refrain from expressing an opinion on this item because the products of this company will bear favorable comparison with imported goods. Some honorable senators wish to make the task of efficient industries even more difficult than it is to-day. I am an old man, and am able to speak with authority on the industrial development of this country. I am familiar with every move in the fiscal game. Time after time the same old arguments are trotted out in an endeavour to destroy industries which are conducted not only in the interests of those controlling them, but also to the advantage of the Australian people. Although we are urged to produce more of certain commodities there are some who prefer to obtain goods from cheap labour countries, such as Czechoslovakia or Japan. The Sydney Harbour bridge was designed and constructed by Australians, and generally speaking, the work of those engaged in Australian industries is equal to that of workmen in any other part of the world. We are endeavouring to develop our primary and secondary industries, and as the Australian glass-making industry is of great value to the Commonwealth, I intend to oppose the request moved by Senator E. B. Johnston.

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