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Thursday, 11 August 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) (1:44 AM) . - No honorable senator appreciates more than I do Senator Pratten's contribution to this debate. I recognise the care he has taken to place clearly before the Committee his views with regard to the position of the Australian tweed manufacturers, and I desire to assure him that in the course of my remarks at the outset of this debate I made no attack on the Australian manufacturers of tweeds. I know that they have been producing during the last few years tweeds at the prices quoted by him. That must be patent to any one who has availed himself of the opportunities offering to visit the local woollen mills, to inspect their products, and to ascertain the prices charged for them. But every word uttered by Senator Pratten supports the request I have submitted to the Committee. Senator Guthrie's contribution, splendid as it was, was not more strongly iri support of my request for a reduction of these duties than was that made by Senator Pratten. My honorable friend has shown clearly that there is no need for this highly Protective Tariff. At the time referred to by him there was nothing that could compete with the excellent tweeds turned out by the Australian mills at the prices quoted for them., nor is there at the present time anything that could compete, in so far as value is concerned, with them.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does not the honorable senator realize that the northern, hemisphere at the time was under wau conditions, but that it is rapidly recovering?

Senator PAYNE - But I am speaking of the present period. The northern countries engaged in the manufacture of tweeds have to draw their supplies of wool from Australia.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Nearly £3,000,000 worth of woollen goods were imported in 1919-20.

Senator PAYNE - Because Australia will not be able for many years to supply the demand. Among the woollen textiles so imported were many the manufacture of which has not been attempted in Australia. The great bulk of the enormous sum referred to by Senator Pratten has been expended by the people of Australia, not in the purchase of tweed for men's clothing, but on textilefabrics which we do. not manufacture, and which are used mainly for female apparel.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - We can supply only one-third' of our .own requirements.

Senator PAYNE - While that is so, it is unnecessary to impose this exceptionally high Tariff in order to bring about a considerable expansion of the industry. This industry can stand on its own bottom. I am hot proposing Free Trade in respect of woollen materials; I am merely trying to show that it is unnecessary to continue the operation of a duty of 30 per cent, on woollen textile fabrics imported from Great Britain. In regard to one class of those fabrics we could hold our own even if there were no duty in operation, while as to the other class we do not. attempt its manufacture in Australia. As to the general Tariff, I am quite prepared, to discriminate between British and foreign manufactures to the extent of 15 per cent. The duty for which I ask on the British, article amounts really to 27J per cent., since an ad valorem duty of 25 per cent, means 27i per cent., while the general duty of 35 per cent, amounts to 38£ per cent. Surely such duties are high enough to meet the requirements of the industry in Australia. But for the fact that revenue is sorely needed1, I should certainly have moved a request for a much greater reduction. What I propose is actually no reduction upon the rates operating under the last Tariff discussed by the Australian Parliament. Senator Pratten waa mistaken when he suggested that I had tried to make it appear to the Committee that the duty under the British general Tariff had been raised. I said nothing of the kind. I realize that my proposal in respect of the British Tariff means 5 per cent, less than the rate which appears in the schedule at the present time. We are now for the first time discussing these items, and we should go back to the rates of 25 per cent. British, and 35 per cent under the general Tariff.

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