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Tuesday, 23 August 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) (12:35 PM) . - I am very glad to have heard the explanation given by the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) as to the reason for the imposition of this heavy impost on sewing machines. It is quite correct that the prices of sewing machines in Australia to-day are unreasonable. The companies operating here have been able to make enormous profits, because they put on the market a really good article. The general experience of the housewife is that the Singer is one of the most useful and reliable machines that can be obtained. I am given to understand that a company is being formed with ample capital to produce in Australia a machine that will give as much satisfaction as the popular Singer does, and which it will be able to sell at from £4 to £6 less than is charged for that imported article. If that could be done it would be a magnificent thing for Australia. The Singer Sewing Machine Company has virtually acquired a monopoly of the whole of the sewingmachine business here, because Australian manufacturers who some years ago were turning out a very good machine have gone out of the business.

Senator MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Were they manufacturing or merely assembling them here?

Senator PAYNE - Sewing machines for a time were made here.

Senator Gardiner - Let us have a quorum.[ Quorum formed.]

Senator PAYNE - I am anxious that the women of Australia shall be able to get at a reasonable price this necessary adjunct to every household. They will be enabled to do so, in my opinion, only by the establishment of an up-to-date sewingmachine factory in Australia. In consequence of the absence of local competition, the price demanded for tho imported article, no matter how high it may be, has to be paid, because . a sewing machine is essential to every home. In view, however, of the fact that the local company to which I have referred is not yet in operation-

Senator Drake-Brockman - It is in operation, but not in full swing.

Senator PAYNE - So far as I can ascertain it is nob likely to commence at the earliest before the end of the year, and for the first twelve months it will have to devote its attention to the building up of a fairly large stock. Under clause 11 of the Customs Tariff Bill the Minister has power to postpone the operation of a deferred duty if he is not satisfied that the requirements of the people are being met. I intend to move in that direction. My desire is to see the industry established in Australia. It will be one of the finest we could have, and my request will be in the direction of bringing the deferred duty into operation on 1st January, 1923.

Senator Bolton - The Tariff Board will have power to make the same recom- mendation if necessary.

Senator PAYNE - I have no wish to move for an unnecessary request, but I want to be quite clear that we shall not be imposing any burden upon the already heavily-burdened people. I notice . that, according to clause 11, the Minister may, by notice published in the Gazette, defer the duty from time to . time, until the date specified by the Tariff Board as being the date by which, in his opinion, the goods can be made or produced in Australia in reasonable quantities and of satisfactory quality. In view of this authority, I shall not proceed with my request, but will rely upon the item being enforced in the spirit of the measure.

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