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Tuesday, 19 May 1936

Senator ARKINS (New South Wales) . - I realize that there is quite a lot in what the Minister says; nevertheless, I agree with Senator Dein's suggestion that Senator Foll should accept 5 oz. instead of 3 oz. I understand that, although the Tariff Board recommended 3 oz., the Government, after consultation with the board, altered the limit to 6 oz. I presume the reason for the alteration was that the Government desired to give a portion of the trade to Manchester. With this I agree, but is this trade going to Great Britain? It is not. There must be some line of demarcation. Out of a total of 188,000,000 square yards of cotton piece-goods imported into Australia, only 4,000,000 square yards come under sub-paragraph b 1. The Tariff Board has stressed the fact that if the cotton industry is to be successfully established in Australia, the heavier weights of drills, denims, dungarees and jeans should be protected^ not only by a duty, but also by a weight limit. It has been amply demonstrated that other countries are exporting to Australia material within a few decimal points of the specified weight of 6 oz.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - If the weight were reduced to 44 oz., what would happen?

Senator ARKINS - Material imported under this item is largely used for the making of uniforms. It is also used by sporting folk - cricketers, tennis players, &c. - and workers of all kinds, both male and female, and has a wide range of uses in the tropical part3 of Australia. The Tariff Board recognized that, and desired to preserve the interests of the Australian industry. Immediately interested parties sought to overcome the protective duty by sending to Australia goods just below the 6-oz. limit; these materials are now coming into active competition with the Australian product. Material weighing only 3 oz. a square yard might be too light, but if the limit were reduced to 5 oz., the ordinary man in the street would be able to differentiate between it >and the 6-oz. material. Senator Foll has merely asked that the Tariff Board's recommendation shall be upheld, and I am anxious to test the feeling of the committee on. this matter. As a matter of fact, it is our duty to record a vote on a matter of such importance. The Tariff Board having recommended a limit of 3 oz., the Minister cannot go far wrong if he accepts a limit between that weight and 6 oz. There is a vast difference between 3 oz. recommended by the board and 5 oz. suggested by Senator Dein, but the latter weight will still distinguish between the better class of drills, denims, dungarees and jeans, and the shoddy, light materials that are being imported to compete with the Australian product and defeat our tariff policy. If Senator Foll is prepared to accept the higher figure, the local manufacturers of these particular goods will be given a chance to compete successfully against their overseas rivals.

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