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Thursday, 3 June 1926

Senator GRANT (New South Wales) .- I listened attentively to the remarks of Senator Guthrie, who informed us that he had invested sums of money in a number of woollen mills, and that in one instance he had made a considerable loss. That aspect of this question should not be overlooked. As the result of the imposition of these higher duties it is possible that some of the woollen mills which now are not paying propositions, and have caused the honorable senator to lose his hard-earned cash, will be placed on their feet, and ultimately make profits in which he will share. Senator Findley said that we should support these duties in the interests of the Australian manufacturers, who comprise an important section of the community. It appears to me that behind most of the woollen industries in this country are the people who have succeeded in placing expensive machinery in them. Most of that machinery came from Great Britain.

Some time ago I visited a woollen mill in Albany, Western Australia, in which the latest machinery was installed. Notwithstanding that it is equipped with such up-to-date machinery, with wool almost on the spot, Perth only a few hours distant by rail, and with the people of Western Australia educated according to modern ideas, that mill is unable to compete with the products of other countries. The only reason that I can give for its failure to do so is that there is something wrong with the distribution of the Australian goods after they have been manufactured. I am informed that good Australian tweed can be made for 7s. 6d. a yard. But it costs 30s. a yard to buy it in the shops. Greater attention should be paid to the distribution of Australianmade goods. Senator Findley emphasized the benefits received by the primary producers from a protective tariff, but he forgot to mention that the Customs House is a great revenue collecting machine. The revenue received from the large quantities of foreign-made shoddy which enter this country saves the primary producers from the painful necessity of paying direct taxation. That point was not mentioned by Senator Findley. I rose for the purpose of urging that consideration should be shown to the manufacturers and investors in our woollen mills, and that the primary producers are exempted from direct taxation by the policy of protection.

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