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Wednesday, 31 August 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- When this item was under discussion in another place it contained a provision for ad valorem duties of 25 per cent. British, 30 per cent, intermediate, and 35 per cent, general, but, as the result of the - debate, the duties were altered as in the schedule now before the Committee. I want honorable senators to understand what percentages these fixed duties represent. The ordinary sand shoe is in most general use, especially during the summer months, in localities within easy reach of the sea shore. Prior to the war women's sand shoes could be purchased at from 3s. 6d. to 3s. 9d. per pair. Until recently the bulk of these sand shoes was made in Britain by the North British Rubber Company, a very old-established concern, but there were also imports from Japan and a fairly large trade with Canada. My remarks will be confined entirely to the British Tariff. At the present export price for the dark-grey upper sand shoe the fixed British duty of1s. 6d. per pair represents a Tariff protection of 104½ per cent, on children's shoes, 82 per cent, on maids' shoes, and 66 per cent, on women's shoes, as compared with 25 per cent. in. the previous Tariff. This is out of all reason. I admit that a very good article is manufactured in Australia. I have nothing whatever to say by way of depreciation of the Australian shoe. It is a credit to the factory.

Senator Elliott - Is it better than the imported article?

Senator PAYNE - That remains to be seen, but it is stated that it gives slightly better wear in the sole. The duties on these shoes must unnecessarily penalize a. large number of people. When the amendments were proposed in another place, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) had to show justification for the increase in duty. I find that the honorable gentleman, in dealing with this question in another place, said -

I havegone carefully into this matter. A large number of very poor quality rubber shoes come into Australia at such, values that ad.valorem duties do not afford sufficient protection against them, especially when they are' imported from cheap-labour countries.

As I do not propose to request an amendment of the duty under the general Tariff the Minister's remarks in regard to importations from cheap labour countries will not apply. I am merely going to move a request for a reduction under the British preferential Tariff.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Great Britain is our chief competitor in this line.

Senator PAYNE - But a certain proportion of our imports of shoes of this class have come from Japan where labour is much cheaper than it is in Great Britain. The Minister for Trade and Customs went on to say that -

The fixed rate will put a stop to the importation of a lot of rubbishy rubber shoes such as are coming into the market at the present time.

Those who have been in the trade will resent the statement that the product of the old established British company to which I have referred is of a rubbishy character. It is not in accordance with the facts. For many years the sand shoes produced by this company were alone worn in Australia, and its manufactures have always been looked upon as giving good value. I have no desire to penalize the Australian industry. It is growing, and there is no reason why it should not expand. A fixed duty that is equivalent to 104 per cent, is unnecessary to insure its development.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - What is the average duty upon all classes under the item?

Senator PAYNE - I am dealing now with sand shoes, and the fixed duties on them are equal to 104^ per cent, on children's sizes, 83 per cent, on maids', and 63 per cent, on women's shoes, so that the average is about SO per cent.

Senator Keating - The honorable senator is basing his calculations on the cheapest class of sand shoes.

Senator PAYNE - I am taking the duty on the class of shoe in general use. I have here a sample of the Australianmade sand shoes.

Senator Elliott - Does the honorable senator admit that the Australian article is better than the imported ?

Senator PAYNE - If the Australian article is better than the imported it will stand on its own merits. A good article always comes out on top.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then why this plea for the overseas firm which, according to the honorable senator, makes the better article?

Senator PAYNE - I am not advancing a special plea on behalf of that firm. I am simply pointing out that in order to protect what is undoubtedly a splendid Australian industry the Government ask us to agree to fixed duties amounting to 104£ per cent, on the cost of children's sand shoes.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - What is the price on which the honorable senator bases his statement that the fixed duty is equal to 104^ per cent. ?

Senator PAYNE - The latest quotations from England are ls. 5jd. per pair for children's sand shoes, ls. lOd. per pair' for maids', and 2s. 3d. for women's shoes. I quote from the new export list.

Senator de Largie - What is the price here 1

Senator PAYNE - I think the wholesale distributing price in Melbourne at the present time is something like 4s. 3d. per pair for women's sand shoes.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - In the early part . of this year certain tenders were dealt with which included a tender by the company which has circularized honorable senators. Its price was 4s. 0J»d. per pair for a wholesale order. On what does the honorable senator base his statement as to the duty being equal to 104£ per cent. ]

Senator PAYNE - I am taking the price of children's sand shoes. The wholesale prices of the imported and ' locally-made sand shoes for women are practically the . same, namely, 4s. 3d. per pair in the case of the Australian-made article, and 4s. 4d. per pair for the imported article. Had this matter received full consideration when the imposition of fixed duties was first suggested in another place, I think that a much lower rate would have been decided upon. If the fixed duty under the British preferential Tariff were reduced by one half it would still be equal to ad valorem duties of 52 per cent, in the case of children's sand shoes, 41 per cent, on sand shoes for maids, and 33 per cent, on women's sand shoes. We have very properly placed heavy duties on imported boots and shoes, because we have a magnificent boot and shoe industry in the Commonwealth. I find that the protection given to our boot and shoe manufacturers as against imports from Great Britain is 40 per cent. We ought to bring this item into line with those relating to boots and shoes. The adoption of my suggestion would do no injury to Australian manufacturers of goloshes, sand shoes, and similar footwear. I move -

That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, British, per pair, 9d.

Senator E.D. MILLEN (New South Wales - Minister for Repatriation [5.9]. - I hope that the Committee will not accept this request. In the first place, I remind honorable senators - although it is somewhat unnecessary to do so at this late stage - that we are engaged in shaping what is admittedly a Protectionist Tariff for the preservation of our own industries, and that in doing so it is impossible always to preserve mathematical uniformity in respect of the various items. I submit, further, that it is impossible to suggest that in the whole Tariff schedule there is not a duty which may not in some way or other pinch some one. We believe, however, that the imposition of these duties as a whole will ultimately benefit, not merely one industry, but the industries of the Commonwealth generally. The Australian consumption of the product of the industry now under consideration is, approximately, 6,000 pairs per day. There is in existence here a factory which is producing with its present staff 2,000 pairs per day, and which is capable of turning out 6,000 pairs per day, and so meeting the whole of Australia's requirements if it is afforded some increased protection on these lowerpriced shoes. Although it is turning out what is claimed to be a moderately good article, so far as these cheaper lines are concerned, it finds it impossible to compete with the many cheap lines which are brought from abroad. With this increased protection on the cheaper lines it will be in a position, on the employment of additional hands, to supply the whole of Australia's requirements.

Senator Payne - My request, if agreed to, would give them a protection amounting to 17 per cent, over and above what they had before.

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