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Thursday, 11 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I am sorry that Senator Lynch has taken this line of thought, because we are not a silk-producing nation, and therefore there is no good reason to increase the duty on silk goods. If the duty is raised, silk as wearing apparel will become so costly that only the wealthy people in the community will be able to wear it. I want the workers also to be in a position to wear silk, and I am sure that quite a number of them would look a great deal better in silk than do many of the people whose wealth enables them to wear it. I ask for the very best that is obtainable for the toilers of Australia. They are entitled to the best, and should get it. I can quite understand a certain section in this community taking the view at one time held in England, where a penalty was sought to be imposed on those who attempted to wear the kind of clothing which the titled people affected and desired to reserve for themselves. I want everything, including silk, to be made available at the cheapest rate, so that the people of this country may become the best dressed people in the world. Silk is not produced in Australia, and, so far as I am aware, we have no industry big enough to justify Tariff protection on the article. Surely Senator Lynch does not want to get the duty back to 30 per cent. ! In 'my opinion, 20 per cent, is too heavy altogether, and Senator Drake-Brockman is quite right in moving for a reduction. In view of the invaluable service I rendered to the Government on the last division, I think they might accept my suggestion now, and allow silk to come in free, so that our people may be clothed in silk and other fine raiment.

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