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Thursday, 11 August 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I understand that the Minister (Senator Russell) has offered a concession of 10 per cent.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - But it has been rejected.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Not by the Committee.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The suggested amendment is. tantamount to nullifying it.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister has agreed to make the duty 30 per cent., 40 per cent., and . 45 per cent., instead of 40 per cent., 50 per cent., and 55 per cent. I am concerned only in the British preferential rate, as the higher duties operate only against Germany, America, and Japan. I do not care, if the duty on importations from those countries is 75 per cent. The, intermediate rate on the Minister's suggestion would be 40 per cent, but it would not operate at present: With a reciprocal arrangement with.

France and Canada, which? is well within the range of practical policy, a duty of 40 per cent would operate against those countries. The Minister has shown how this industry has grown, and the facts are these. About £300,000 worth of corsets, are imported annually into Australia. Until these duties were imposed the corset business was practically non-existent; but since they have been in operation considerable development has begun, and. from June, 1920, to July last Australianfactories have produced £100,000 worth of corsets, which is equal to one-third of the total importations. The Minister has informed us that the D. & A. Co. of America intend establishing a factory here, and a drastic reduction of the proposed duties would prevent the rapid development of the industry, and probably be the means of American capital being kept out of the country.

Senator Bolton - They would soon wipe out our manufacturers if they came under these conditions. .

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Protection encourages local competition, and it would not make much difference to Australian users so long as they were purchasing the corsets made by Australian workmen.

Senator Drake-Brockman - If available at a reasonable price.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is the point. It is not fair to be continually harping on pre-war prices, particularly when we have heard, over and over again, that the rates of wages, and the prices of material, machinery, and everything else are three or four times more than before the war. Yesterday afternoon, when discussing the duties- on woollen goods, we were informed that the wages in France were four times higher than before the war.

Senator Payne - The new season's corsets will cost about 70 per cent, more than the pre-war article.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It has been said that, before the war, corsets were available at a . low price. I ask the Committee to consider the matter carefully before drastically reducing these duties.

Senator Drake-Brockman - The proposition is to increase them-.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - -They have been increased, and the result has been that within twelvemonths one-third of the country's requirements in 'the way of corsets has been manufactured in Australia. According to the figures of the Minister., Australia used to import annually about £300,000 worth of corsets., but during the last financial year three factories - now there are four, and also a number of individuals making to order - made £94,000 of corsets, of which £35,000 worth were made in the first six months, and £59,000 worth in the second six months. As a Protectionist, I think that the duties have fully justified themselves.

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