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Thursday, 3 June 1926

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania)

I judge that honorable senators generally are sympathetic to my request, and that they think it is unwise to penalize the wearers of the garments in cluded in this sub-item simply because of a decision of the Customs Department which does not give effect to the wishes of Parliament. Honorable senators will recall that I stated unhesitatingly that any differentiation should refer only to the fabric of the garment itself.

Senator Elliott - Why?

Senator PAYNE - Because in connexion with this item that is the commonsense view to take.

Senator Elliott - Is there any distinction between silk woven into the garment or sewn on?

Senator PAYNE - When woven into the garment it is then part of the fabric It was suggested that, in order to meet the objections of some honorable senators, I should draft another request. During the dinner adjournment I did so, but the Minister, acting on the advice of the Customs officials, is not prepared to accept it. Consequently we may take it that the Government is determined to continue this unjust imposition.. This cotton singlet, which I am exhibiting to honorable senators, is bound round the neck with a binding of special material which is included by the British manufacturer in the invoice price of the article. ' The Minister suggests that, if my requested amendment is agreed to, there will be an evasion of Customs duties, the binding being a silk and cotton mixture. The Minister is wrong, because, as I have stated, all the materials in the garment are included in the invoice price, and the binding, as part of the garment, pays a higher rate of duty than if it were imported in another form, so there can be no evasion of duty. I should like to emphasize also that this class of garment is made specially to suit residents in tropical or sub-tropical portions of Australia.

Senator Crawford - I am not aware that any request has been received with respect to this item from any tropical portion of Australia.

Senator PAYNE - I wonder how many residents of Queensland realize that the Government has imposed this duty. They will find out when they are called upon to pay an additional 3s. or 4s. for this class of undervest.

Senator Crawford - They will buy the Australian article then.

Senator PAYNE - Why should people be debarred from buying a British article if they prefer it, and if they think it suits their needs better ? These undervests must be bound round the neck with this special material otherwise they would be unsuitable, but owing to the decision of the Customs Department with regardto silk mixtures, they are now dutiable at 2s. 6d. each under the British tariff, plus 30 per cent.- ad valorem, as compared with1s. each, plus 30 per cent, ad valorem, the duty on a cotton garment. Half a yard of binding containing silk makes all the difference in the duty.

Senator Findley - Suppose there was a yard of such binding on the garment.

Senator PAYNE - What difference would that make? How can there be any evasion of the duties?

Senator Crawford - That argument would apply to skirts and blouses as well as singlets, and they might have several yards of binding.

Senator PAYNE - Even then the Customs revenue, would not suffer, because the British invoice price would be increased, and the higher ad valorem duty would apply.

Senator Findley - Will not the duties increase the production of these articles in Australia?

Senator PAYNE - That is the object of the high tariff.

Senator Findley - Is the honorable senator opposed to the protection of goods manufactured in Australia.

Senator PAYNE - Of course I am not. But in supporting a, protective policy, I am not prepared to compel people to pay unnecessarily high prices. I shall support any proposition that can be shown to be economically sound from an industrial view point. I press the requested amendment, which I. have already submitted, because I consider it fair.

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