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Thursday, 11 August 1921

Senator SENIOR (South Australia) . - When the request submitted by Senator Guthrie is disposed of it is my intention to move to make the duty under the general Tariff 20 per cent. Whilst I am particularly anxious to protect and advance the interests of the woollen industry and the manufacture of flannel and tweed in Australia we have to remember that two-thirds of the people in the Commonwealth live in a climate where woollen garments cannot be worn throughout the year. Senator Payne has said that the demand for flannel cannot be met by the Australian mills, and if such is the case it is our fault. It has been said that wool is one-half the price of cotton, -and as wool can be woven just as cheaply as cotton there is no reason why we should be compelled to pay the exorbitant prices demanded for woollen materials. Even if we detain the Committee at some length in discussing this question we shall bo able to show that woollen goods are dearer than they should be according to the price of the raw material of which they are composed. If we desire to encourage woollen manufacturers we must discourage the use of materials containing cotton..The effect on the people's health depends very largely upon the climate in which woollen or flannelette garments are worn. It would be unhealthy to wear flannel in Queensland and in parts of New South Wales, and it would be equally undesirable to wear -cotton goods in the southern portions of the Commonwealth.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the honorable senator propose submitting a request in connexion with the British and intermediate duties?

Senator SENIOR - Yes, I desire the duties to be 5 per cent., 10 per cent., and 20 per cent. respectively. The imposition of such duties would not result in raising the price of flannel if the output from our woollen mills is being increased. The impression prevails that a number of our mills have not been working up to their full capacity, and if they are able to nearly double their output we should encourage the use of the locallymanufactured material. It is difficult to overcome prejudice in this regard, and if the Australian people had been accustomed to wearing woollen garments, it would be just as difficult to thrust cotton goods upon them.

Request negatived.

Request (by Senator Senior) proposed -

That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (c), general, 20 per cent.

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