Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 15 October 1973
Page: 2052

Mr COHEN (ROBERTSON, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the Minister for Overseas Trade recall the gloom and doom predicted by the Leader of the Australian Country Party at the time of the tariff cuts when he said that hundreds of country businesses would close down, particularly those engaged in the textile trade, and also similar outbursts from the Liberal Party about the fashion industry? What is the present position regarding the textile and fashion industries? Is it not a fact that today in Australia it is almost impossible for persons engaged in the retail trade to get their orders supplied this side of Christmas and that, in some instances, orders will not be forwarded until March 1974?

Dr J F CAIRNS (LALOR, VICTORIA) (Minister for Overseas Trade) - I recall the predictions of gloom, especially by the Leader of the Country Party in speaking of country factories and the way they would be affected by the 25 per cent tariff cut. I remember also how that was taken up by spokesmen on behalf of the Liberal Party and by some persons in industry as well. I said at the time that I thought we would have good prospects of getting perhaps as much as S400m worth of goods additionally into Australia without it cutting Australian production at all. Up to this point it seems as though that is true. So far, as I was reminded in the question, the truth is that the characteristic feature of the Australian clothing and apparel industry at the moment is that the demand is so high that orders cannot, in many cases, be satisfied before Christmas and, in some cases, until March of next year. There is still throughout industry, and in respect of country factories as much as those in the city, a great excess of demand. I think that the responsibility that the Opposition has is to support action taken by the Government to try to deal with that excess demand, because that is inflationary.

At present we have had only one firm which has applied to the McBride tribunal for assistance and for some revision of the tariff cut. Up to the time of the last statistics only 25 persons in Australia had registered for unemployment saying that they thought their loss of jobs was related to the 25 per cent tariff cut. The Government instituted, some months back in the early part of this year, a close watch on imports through the Customs Department. We have up to date information about what is occurring. The position is watched closely. In almost every respect where tariff cuts have occurred the situation is still that there is excess demand in industry, so there is no justification for the gloom and doom that show everywhere else except in the financial pages where profits of companies are reported. There we find that they are at record levels. Therefore the predictions made by the Leader of the Country Party - they are never really predictions, just a string of adjectives tied together without any regard to whether they are related to facts at all - have proven to be completely untrue and unjustified.

Suggest corrections