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Wednesday, 2 June 1926

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) . - A vote should not be taken until a reply has been made to the statements of Senator Payne. The honorable senator would have us believe that he, of all honorable senators, is most anxious that no duty shall be imposed which will penalize the working class. Every argument advanced by the honorable senator has been advanced time after time by every free trader in this Parliament since federation. This is an important matter, affecting not only the manufacturers, but also the people of Australia generally. Although we are not at present dealing with all the items in Item 110, we are dealing with overcoats and suits, as well as boys' and youths' clothes. The importation of these goods has increased year by year, showing that the duties previously imposed were not high enough. In 1923 the importation of boys' outer garments were valued at £159,000. In 1924 that amount had increased to £219,000; and for the first six months of 1925 the importations were valued at £273,000. These goods could, and should, be made in Australia, where already we have 2,000 factories employing about 40,000 people. When these duties are agreed to, more and more labour will be absorbed. I am informed that large quantities of ready-made clothing, made from shoddy, have been inported in the past, as well as large quantities of shoddy for manufacture' into outer garments. This matter was considered by the Tariff Board which recommended the proposals now embodied in this schedule. The object was to place an effective duty on woollen piece goods, and to restrict the importation of shoddy material. It will be' recognized that, unless made-up articles are granted a sufficiently high protective duty, there will be an increase in the importation of such garments. The same measure of protection should be given to imported material as is imposed on made-up articles, otherwise wo shall not give to the manufacturer the measure of protection to- which he is entitled. Higher duties have been imposed because of excessive Importations. Senator Payne claims to be a protectionist, but I have been unable to follow, him this evening. When high duties on timber and hops, or anything that, affects Tasmania, are proposed, he supports them, as he will, no doubt, support, the duties on woollen piece goods because there are woollen mills in Tasmania.

Senator Payne - The honorable senator is a false prophet.

Senator FINDLEY - Although tariff matters are largely non-party matters, I expected the honorable senator to stand behind the Government which he professes to support. If a Labour Government had introduced a tariff schedule, its members, including Senator Grant, would be expected to stand behind it. As a protectionist, 1 support the Government in any proposal which it brings forward to encourage Australian industry. This duty will grant a greater measure of protection to an Austraiian industry; it. will lessen the importation of shoddy garments, and will give a better chance to the woollen industry in Australia, and to the Australians who wear these articles. I therefore support it.

Progress reported.

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