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Thursday, 11 August 1921

Senator PAYNE - I would remind the honorable senator that every pair of corsets is cartoned in a cardboard boac, in order that 'it shall Teach Australia in an attractive condition. Honorable senators know that the oversea freight is not by weight, hut 'by measurement, and it does not take many dozen pairs of corsets to fill a large-sized packing. case when each pair is put up in a cardboard box. I had the charges worked out, but have not them at hand. Speaking from memory, inclusive of the duty, under the general Tariff, they would amount to 100 per cent. Prior to the introduction of the present Tariff the duty on corsets was - British, 10 per cent.; and general, 15 per cent. The present proposal is to make the duty - British, 40 '-per cent. ; intermediate, 50 per cent.; and general, 55 per cent., although Australia is by no means providing all the corsets the women of this country need. At this hour of the morning I do not wish to *give a lecture upon the hygienic " necessities of the proper - shaping of these -> articles in-order to make them comfortable to wear? hut every man knows how essential it is to a woman's, comfort 'that her corsets 'should fit well. Before- '.the war any woman in Australia with moderate means could buy -«r 25s. per pair, and there is no guarantee that they will last half as long as the others would. I 'have with me a pair of corsets which would have cost 6s. 4d. to land in Australia under :the old Tariff, hut which -cannot he landed to-day at under 8s. 2d. a pair. I hove also a pair of- better quality, which could have been landed -in -Australia under the old duty at 14s. 8d. a pair, but which -cannot be landed now at under '24s. 7d. a pair. I have not a -word to say against the article manufactured in Australia, but the corsetmaking industry -of Europe -and America has been developed, as the result of many years of study, to a high degree of perfection. It -is an industry .that cannot he brought to that stage of perfection in -a year or two, and no matter what facilities are 'given in Australia, it will %e many years before -we -can -possibly hope to supply the whole of the needs of Australian users of corsets. .T have with me a pair of Australian-made corsets, -every item required in the manufacture df which b imported free of duty. In view of the enormous amount of natural Protection our corset manufacturers have, because of the high freight -which has 'to be -paid upon .these articles, owing, to their great bulk when packed for transport, is it. reasonable to ask for an ad valorem duty of 55 per cent., which must -be calculated not on £100, hut, as I have already oxplained, on £110 f

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Why not argue on the basis of 40 -per cent. British instead of 55 per cent, foreign!

Senator PAYNE - Because the .hulk- of our imported -corsets are not British made.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Ib it not time they were British or Australian made ?

Senator PAYNE - I would like to see the British manufacturers of .corsets 'keep pace with those of other countries, but the latter have outstripped their British competitors in the degree of comfort they can guarantee to the wearers of their -.corsets. Unfortunately, Great Britain has been somewhat conservative in respect to many of its manufactures.. America -has captured a great portion of the boot :and shootrade of the United Kingdom, because the

British, manufacturers would never consider any proposal to put on the market other than the ordinary stock sizes, whereas America, by introducing new lasts, was able to supply halfsizes to meet the real needs of the people. In the same way, Great Britain has gone to leeward in respect to the manufacture of corsets. At any rate, many women prefer French or American corsets because of their peculiar shape. We are not all built alike. Fortunately there are varieties of feature, and in the same way there are varieties of form. E very woman cannot wear the same kind of corset. It is essential for each woman to wear whatever corset suits her form, no matter where it may be made. The Australian corset-making industry has made good progress, but it was developed under a Tariff of 10 per cent. British and 15 per cent, foreign."

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - What has been done since that Tariff has been increased ?

Senator PAYNE -The immediate effect of the increase in duty was to put up the price of a pair of corsets of Australian manufacture by several shillings.

Senator Reid - Did the local manufacturers have a fair margin previously, or were they merely existing?

Senator PAYNE - As they were able to extend their industry very considerably, I take it that they were getting on very well.

Senator Russell - The Australian price is given as 10s. per pair, or £6 5s. per dozen.

Senator PAYNE - Is that the wholesale price?

Senator Russell - Apparently.

Senator PAYNE - Then it is absolutely beyond the reach of the average woman. Before the war a woman could purchase a good British, American, or French corset for 7s. 6d. or 8s., but to-day for a corset, which will not be of high quality, the price is 10s. per pair wholesale. The request I have moved means protection, so far as the English corset is concerned, of at least 35 per cent. I move -

That the House of Representatives be requested to insert the following new sub-item: - "(c) Corsets, ad val., British, 15 per cent.; intermediate,20 per cent.; general, 25 per cent."

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