Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Wednesday, 30 June 1926

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- I expected the Minister to outline the reasons actuating the House of Representatives in increasing the amount of protection requested by the Senate on artificial silk piece goods which, in itself, was a very substantial increase on the Government's original proposal. I want honorable senators to disabuse themselves of the idea that textile fabrics containing artificial silk come into keen competition with our woollen industry. Since these duties were discussed in the Senate, the claim that these fabrics do come into competition with our woollen industry has been exploded. An examination of the fabrics themselves will convince any honorable senator that they cannot enter into competition with the Australian woollen textile industry. As a matter of fact, their manufacture is an aid to the producers of wool, because artificial silk is used with wool for the manufacture of attractive textiles, which are thus brought within the financial means of the great majority of the people. Time after time during the debate on the tariff, I was twitted with being a freetrader. I am not a freetrader, and I do not believe that we should have a freetrade policy in Australia. My own view is that any industry worth establishing should have adequate protection, but I distinguish between reasonable protection and the prohibition suggested during the discussions on the tariff.

Senator Thompson - Are not the duties proposed on artificial silk higher than the duties on silk ?

Senator PAYNE - Yes, twice as high, and the manufacture of artificial silk piece goods is a British enterprise, whereas the greater portion of our imported silk goods comes from Japan, China, and the Continent.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - And the proposal is to place a higher duty on what comes from Britain than on what comes from China?

Senator PAYNE - Yes; much higher. The Senate's requested amendment sought to do so, and the House of Representatives has still further increased the duties. The statements which led up to the further increases will not hold water when analysed. The main argument advanced seemed to be that a company engaged in the manufacture of artificial silk had made an enormous profit last year. On that ground, it was urged that the people of Australia should be penalized by having to pay more for the articles manufactured by this firm As a matter of fact, the Courtauld company is not the only firm manufacturing artificial silk in Great Britain. In Bradford, the great woollen manufacturing centre of England, a great deal of artificial silk is used in embellishing dress materials to make them attractive. Thus, an increase in these duties will strike a blow at the Bradford manufacturers, while conferring no advantage on an Australian manufacturer. I move -

That the motion be amended by adding: " Provided the duties be made ad valorem, British, 10 per cent.; intermediate, 12½ per cent. ; general, 20 per cent. And on and after 1st January, 1927, ad valorem, British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.

I am asking honorable senators not to agree to the modification made by the House of Representatives,, but to restore the item to what it was in the schedule as it came to the Senate from another place, with the addition ofa deferred duty of 25 per cent. British and intermediate, and 35 per cent, general, because it has been definitely stated that British firms are contemplating the establishment of the artificial silk industry in Australia.

Senator Pearce - Is it not their intention to start their operations in Tasmania ?

Senator PAYNE - I do not care where they make a start, so long as the industry is established in Australia. Some honorable senators have referred to artificial silk goods as pure rubbish. 1 have several samples of artificial silk material with me, and I ask honorable senators to examine them, and say honestly whether they are rubbish. These are goods which are in general, use in Australia. They do not come into competition with an Australian industry ; but, to a great extent, they have supplanted a trade carried on successfully for years by Japanese and Chinese merchants.

Senator Abbott - Where were the samples displayed by the honorable senator manufactured?

Senator PAYNE - In England.

Sen ator Drake - Brockman . - According to the ticket, one of them was manufactured in America.

Senator PAYNE - I have not looked carefully at the tickets to see where they were manufactured ; but I was assured that they were produced by Courtaulds Limited in England. Artificial silk manufactured in England is used in the millinery industry in Australia, and gives employment to a large number of female workers.

Senator Elliott - Would not a greater number of girls be employed if woollen materials were used?

Senator PAYNE - How could woollen material be used for millinery purposes? I have recently visited some of the hosiery mills, and I was not surprised to find that many of the articles produced are composed of artificial silk, which is within the reach of the average individual, and really gives better service.

Senator Crawford - Stockings of artificial silk compete with woollen stockings1.

Senator PAYNE - In saying that the Minister shows that he does not know anything about the matter. I do not wish to be offensive. If he inspected the factories he would find that during the last season the hosiery manufacturers have been producing men's and women's warm winter hose composed of Australian woollen yarn covered with artificial silk to make the goods more attractive. The imposition of this duty will be the means of providing the Commonwealth with more revenue. Artificial silk is used not only for textile fabrics for human wear, but also in the production of magnificent tapestries, which are largely imported into Australia, and which do not come into competition in any way with similar goods manufactured in Australia. The statement that artificial silk is rubbish cannot bejustified. I have been assured that the materials, samples of which I have produced, are manufactured in one of the eleven mills operating in Great Britain, but those eleven mills do not represent the total number engaged in the manufacture of these materials. In visiting a Flinders-lane warehouse which imports mainly dress materials from Bradford, I found that a large quantity of the Bradford dress materials contained artificial silk.

Senator Elliott - What of the enormous profits the firm is making ?

Senator PAYNE - What has that to do with the imposition of a high duty? If the profits are high it shows that the manufacturers are producing a popular commodity. The profit on the £20,000,000 capital invested has been £400,000 to £500,000, two-thirds of which was obtained in America. If all the profits were derived in England they would be equivalent to only 25 per cent., and it does not follow that profits quotedare net.

Senator Crawford - We know only of the disclosed profits; the actual profits may be much greater.

Senator PAYNE - Will the imposition of higher duties penalize the manufacturers or the users of the material 1

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Newlands). The honorable senator has exhausted his time.

Suggest corrections