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Wednesday, 31 August 1921

Senator ELLIOTT (Victoria) .- I indorse the remarks of the Minister (Senator E. D. Milieu). While I have considerable sympathy with Senator Plain in regard to his complaints concerning inferior leather, there may be reason for the poor quality of much of the footwear sold to the public to-day. During the war the Government insisted upon getting the very best quality of leather for the boots worn by Australian soldiers. The result was that a certain quantity of inferior material remained on the hands of local tanners. This was bought, in many instances, at exceedingly high prices, for civilian footwear. The manufacturers must get rid of those boots in some way or another. Factories are absolutely stocked up.

Senator Lynch - With rubbish.

Senator ELLIOTT - Now that matters are becoming normal, manufacturers should be able to place a much better article on the market. During the war, and since, the civilian population of Australia has been getting boots more cheaply than the people of many other countries.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Local manufacturers can draw upon the cheapest raw material in the world.

Senator ELLIOTT - Twelve months or so ago the price of hides in Australia was extraordinarily high. Local manufacturers complained that buyers from abroad bought the best lines over their heads.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Because the hides, although expensive, were cheaper in Australia than anywhere else.

Senator ELLIOTT - Quite so; but American and Continental representatives outbid the local men for the best leathers. And even the remainder, which the Australian manufacturers were able to secure, were unreasonably costly; they were far above normal market values. The makers are now saddled with that expensive but inferior stuff.

Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow - They should be prepared to cut their losses.

Senator ELLIOTT - I heard of one manufacturer who had about £20,000" locked up in manufactured footwear. He could not sell his stocks, at anything; approaching the cost of making. Upon present values he is faced with a loss of j>os- sibly £15,000, and ruin stares him in the face.

Senator Plain - Quite recently I had ito pay 17s. 6d. for a pair of boots for aboy six. years of age.

Senator ELLIOTT - That may be so. Manufacturers were forced to purchase inferior leather at high prices in order to carry on business, and it is unfortunate that a certain quantity of this leather had to be made into boots. The remedy does not lie in allowing importers to bring hoots into Australia. Our manufacturers -should be encouraged to make boots from Australian hides at reasonable prices.

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