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Thursday, 11 August 1921


Senator SENIOR (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Some comes from America, and is called " American cloth."


Senator PAYNE - Yes, a great deal. The name "American cloth" does not necessarily mean that the material is made in America. It was originally made in America, but British manufacturers established the industry in such a way as to be able to more than compete with the American product, and it is a ,very large industry in Great Britain at the present time. The Americans still continue their industry, and have enlarged it considerably, especially since the advent of motor cars. Leather cloth plays a very important Dart in the upholstering of motor cars. Motor traffic has come to stay in Australia, and I am sure we are all anxious to. see it increased as much as possible, Rapid transit is very important to our business community, and people, of small means engaged in business find it essential to provide themselves with the mo3t rapid means of locomotion..


Senator Rowell -- Why not deal with leather cloth when we come to the special sub-item which covers it? '


Senator PAYNE - Under sub-item h it is dutiable at 5 per cent., 10 per cent., and 15 per cent. I desire to have that specific line of the Tariff deleted, in order that leather cloth may be included, as it has previously been, amongst cotton, linen, and other piece-goods n.e.i., and oilbaize not containing wool, which are admitted free from Great Britain.


Senator CRAWFORD - How much will a duty of 5 per cent, on leather cloth add to the price per yard ?


Senator PAYNE - I have something which I can quote to give honorable senators an idea of what a duty of 5 per cent, means -

Every 5 per cent, levied by the Customs Tariff becomes, when the article reaches the consumer, 9.9 per cent.


Senator Crawford - The honorable senator might say 10 per cent.


Senator PAYNE - We might say 10 per cent. That calculation is based on the average profit received by distributors. It might be more in some cases, and as the article upon which the figures I quoted are based takes up much less room than leather cloth, it is possible that, in the case of leather cloth, the 5 per cent, would represent 11 or 12 per cent, when the article reached the consumer.


Senator Crawford - At what price is leather cloth retailed - ls. or 2s. a yard ?


Senator PAYNE - At various prices. The ordinary leather-cloth used for household purposes, which could be purchased for ls. 3d. or ls. 6d. per yard in pre-war time's, is now about 2s; lid. per yard, admitted free of duty.


Senator Vardon - The price of this material went up to Ss. per yard during the war.


Senator PAYNE - I am referring to the ordinary leather cloth used by householders for table coverings, and so on. There would be a proportionate increase in the price of the better qualities.


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - The better quality is used for motor cars.


Senator PAYNE - It is' used for upholstering motor cars and for motor car covers. Leather cloth is chiefly used for upholstering, and a very considerable proportion of our importations are used in that way. It is essential to the upholstering trade.


Senator Keating - Is this material imported from Great Britain or America ?


Senator PAYNE - It is imported from both countries. In the general Tariff there is a duty of 15 per cent, on cotton piece goods, and there is no suggestion that it should" he reduced against the American product. Unless good reason is shown why there should be a duty on this article, a mistake was made in another place by inserting it as a new sub-item.


Senator Keating - Can it be made in Australia ?


Senator PAYNE - No.


Senator Crawford - Does it come into competition with leather?


Senator PAYNE - If the honorable member looks upon it from that point of view-


Senator Crawford - It is a very important point of view, at . all events.


Senator PAYNE - It is, from the consumers' stand-point.


Senator Senior - Leather does npt come into competition with this article.


Senator PAYNE - I think it does; but I am not prepared to support any proposal to place additional burdens on the bulk of the people unless it can be shown that it is necessary to do- so in order to meet the financial exigencies of the Commonwealth. No suggestion has been made, so far as I am aware, that theproposed duty on leather cloth in paragraph 3 of sub-item h has been imposed to produce revenue; and in view of the fact that we do not manufacture leather cloth in Australia I desire it to be free.







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