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Thursday, 11 August 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) (5:42 AM) . - I thank the honorable senator for his courtesy. I move-

That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, sub-item (a), British, 15 per cent.; intermediate, 20 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the honorable senator propose to deal with the duties on woollen or silk socks and stockings?

Senator PAYNE - I propose to move a request for a slight reduction in the duties on woollen socks and stockings; and if, in the 'interests of a very important industry which has grown up in Australia, it is necessary to increase the duties on silk socks and stockings, I shall be prepared to support such a request. Cotton socks are worn very extensively in' Australia. The foot, is perhaps the most sensitive portion of a man's . anatomy. Many men cannot wear worsted or woollen socks, while others cannot wear cotton socks. Cotton socks have been worn by many in recent years because woollen and silk socks have been beyond their reach. As cotton socks -under previous Tariffs have been admitted free, why" should we impose upon them duties of 30 per cent., under the British preferential Tariff and 45 per cent, under the general Tariff? It has been suggested that cotton socks and stockings of an excellent quality are made in Australia in sufficient quantities to supply the needs of the people. 'I have had sent to me a pair of Australian-made cotton stockings.

Senator de LARGIE - "We all had a pair sent to us. They are not a bad example.

Senator PAYNE - No ; but for the credit of Australia I hope that we shall not turn out many more according to this sample. The colour is execrable, but having regard to the conditions which have been obtaining they are fair value. That, however, is not the point. We have been told that the cotton-hosiery industry is carried on extensively in . Australia. Being anxious to see the different classes of hosiery that are being manufactured in the Commonwealth, I took the liberty of visiting the warehouse from' which this sample pair of stockings was sent to me. I was courteously received and taken round a well-stocked warehouse. I was naturally anxious to see what classes of goods were manufactured by this. firm, and was shown what in their boxes appeared to he beautiful, attractive, silk hosiery. I do not say that they would be as attractive when worn, but they were a really fine sample of that particular class of hosiery for which there has been a good demand. It- has become the fashion of late to wear silk hose. We have been living in an era of extravagance, and our lady friends have not been guilty of greater extravagance than that which is involved in their slavish adherence to silk hose. Heads of families recently are beginning to feel the strain. I am glad to know that the manufacture of silk hose in Australia has extended so rapidly. 1 was then shown, one or two samples of cashmere hose. They were a very fair product; but the warehouse had no assortment of them. Having inspected quite a number of samples of different grades of hosiery, I asked for samples of Australian-made cotton hose. The manager of the establishment said, " We have not any. We can make them, but there is no demand for them." They had no cotton hosiery in stock, nor could they show me any cotton half-hose. We have been told that they are supplying the needs of the people in the matter of cotton hosiery ; but that is not the case. I was told a.t this warehouse that there was such a demand for cashmere and silk hose that they were not making any cotton goods.

Senator Reid - It pays them better to make silk and cashmere hosiery.

Senator PAYNE - Yes. I do not think we have reached the stage at which it pays to make cotton hosiery. For the reasons I have given, and .because I want to see the people who cannot afford to buy expensive hosiery in a position to buy at a reasonable price, I have moved to reduce these heavy duties. Under the old Tariff this hosiery was admitted free from Britain,' and paid a duty of 10 per cent, when imported from foreign countries, and I think it reasonable to fix the duty at 15 par cent. (British and 30 per cent, general. This impost, while bringing in- revenue, will at the same time give people the opportunity of getting a serviceable article at a fairly mode-, rate price. It will not interfere with the silk, cashmere, or woollen hosiery already made in Australia with success.

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