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Wednesday, 31 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I trust the Committee will adhere to the proposed duty of 50 per cent., because I want to have the opportunity, when on the platform, of telling the people that the Nationalist Government are assisting in compelling purchasers of boots to pay more than double a. reasonable price when hides are cheaper than they have ever been. I shall tell them that the boot manufacturers, who were making good boots for 12s. lid. before the war, and were selling them at 14s. lid. after the war, are now asking at least 20s. a pair. Senator Elliott says that these have been manufactured from inferior leather that could nob be utilized for military purposes. The Australian manufacturers were not compelled to utilize second-grade material, although they secured the best to carry out military contracts. I am glad Senator Plain gave ihe Committee the benefit of his experience, because his interjection may become famous, because he has shown what has happened after fifty years of Protection.

Senator Elliott - The Governmentasked for the best quality of leather for articles manufactured for the troops.

Senator GARDINER - They insisted upon it, and to such, an extent that they controlled the manufacture of leather.

Senator Elliott - And civilians had to be content with what was left.

Senator GARDINER - During the war the boot manufacturers secured prices which paid them handsomely, .because they contracted on flat rates, and as one who had considerable experience in the letting of contracts in the early stages of the war, I know that all manufacturers were in cluded. Every firm, capable of manufacturing in. sufficient quantities was able to tender, and boots were produced at a price that showed a good profit. I admit that the boots compared favorably with any manufactured in any part of the world ; but surely that is not a reason why outsiders should not compete with Australian manufacturers. Competition will compel them to sell at reasonable prices, and surely a duty of 40 per cent., as suggested, is sufficient for a firmly-established industry. On principle, I shall vote for a duty of 40 per cent., and on the platform. I shall make it known that the Nationalist Government are keeping up prices by asking us to adopt such unreasonable duties.

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