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Thursday, 1 September 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- A more preposterous proposal than that of Senator Duncan has not previously come before this Committee. From the outset of the discussion upon the Tariff, honorable senators have decried the enormously high cost of living. By their words and their votes they have shown a desire to reduce that cost. Several honorable senators have opposed every proposition calculated to place any additional penalty upon the people. Now, however, they are suggesting . that Parliament should deliberately say to the people, " Henceforth we shall prescribe the class of bed upon which you shall lie." Kapok has provided not only a cheap but a comfortable bed upon which the weary worker can recline after a hard day's' toil, but some honorable senators would compel him, for the future, to pay 50 per cent, more for his bed.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - He would not need to be persuaded to pay more when he once had had experience of a woollen mattress.

Senator PAYNE - I have recently heard several references, outside of Parliament, to this matter. If Senator Duncan were to come into conflict with the Housewives' Association of Victoria hp would be sorry that he had ever moved as he has done this evening.

Senator Duncan - I have had dozens of letters in support of the proposition.

Senator PAYNE - The Minister (Senator Pearce) has pointed out that the request, if put into effect, will impose an enormous burden upon the public. Senator Duncan refrained from giving an idea of the cost of a woollen mattress. He contented himself by saying that the Hotel Australia, in Sydney, had given a large order to the local firm. The management of that hotel will not be at the expense of this purchase; it will pass on the cost. I would not be surprised to find that the tariff for every room in the Hotel Aus- tralia had been increased by1s. a day from the moment of the introduction of the woollen mattresses.

Senator de Largie - The tariff there is about £2 per day already.

Senator PAYNE - The management can always demand a. little more. I would like to know how long a kapok mattress will last compared with a woollen mattress.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Not a third of the time.

Senator Duncan - A housewife can sweep up a shovelful of dirt and fluff each morning from under a kapok mattress after a certain period of its lifetime.

Senator PAYNE - That is an exaggeration.

SenatorFoster. - To poor people the initial cost of a woollen mattress is a very big consideration.

Senator PAYNE - Of course! Is it reasonable to propose that the poor should be compelled to pay so much more for a woollen mattress when they are quite content with, and perfectly comfortable upon, a kapok mattress?

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - If they are given a chance to learn the qualities of the other, they will prefer to buy it for a little more.

Senator PAYNE - The Australian woollen mattress factory is placing its product on the market to-day. It should be ready and willing to test the market before Parliament protects it in the manner which its friends desire.

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