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Thursday, 11 August 1921

Senator RUSSELL (Victoria) (VicePresident of the Executive Council) . - There is a large trade in light leather material for furnishings,, and I understand that this cheap imitation leather cloth, is, to some extent, injuring its development. I have here samples of both materials, which I shall he glad. if honorable senators will examine. L' am informed that leather cloth is practically knocking out some branches of tha Australian leather trade, and it has been, deemed advisable to afford it some protection against this poor imitation.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then a poor article* is knocking out a good article?

Senator RUSSELL - It is a cheap imitation of certain classes of 'leather.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - But even in the sub-item h the British duty is only 5 per cent, on leather cloth."

Senator RUSSELL - It may be inadvisable to prevent the introduction of leather cloth altogether, because it is useful for certain purposes. The Australianleather industry is a very important one, and it should he our purpose to protect it against cheap imitation materials, theintroduction of which might seriously injure one of our basic industries. This material is not accurately described, because it is really enamelled cotton goods. If people buying it knew that they were not purchasing leather, there would hot be the same objection to it.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Customs authorities would not allow its introduction if it were improperly described.

Senator RUSSELL - But there is no leather in it, and it should be our desire to protect the Australian leather industry.

Senator Payne - A duty of 5 per cent, will simply increase the price of the cloth without protecting our leather industry.

Senator RUSSELL - The article is an imitation of leather, and is being used as such. We ought to stop this, as far as possible, though I understand we have not the power under the Customs Act to do that. Those who handle the article should not be allowed to deceive the people. I believe that one of our officers discovered the other day that American leather cloth was being supplied instead of the real article, and as there are big possibilities for the Australian leather trade, not only in this country, but overseas, we ought to do all that is possible to protect it. Leather cloth is really enamelled cotton, and its name should be changed. This deception is going on all over the world. A little while ago the Japanese were selling inferior flour as " Brunston's flour," suggesting that it was the output of Brunston's the well-known Australian millers, and in that way they did some injury to the Australian flour trade. This is happening everywhere, and we should do all we can to stop it in Australia.

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