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Wednesday, 14 March 1928

Senator REID (Queensland) .- lt is a matter of history that the passing of previous tariff schedules has enabled hosiery factories in Australia, which were about to close down, to continue their operations. Senator Payne objects to the imposition of a flat rate in respect of British goods.

Senator Payne - I object to the prohibition against British goods entering this country.

Senator REID - I am as British as is any other honorable senator; but I object to British goods under-selling Australian goods.

Senator Thompson - Would the honorable senator rule out goods from the Mother Country?

Senator REID - No; but I shall not be a party to assisting British manufacturers at the expense of Australian manufacturers. As a protectionist I can take no other view. This Parliament has protected some industries and it cannot consistently . refuse to protect others. During 1926-27, cotton socks and stockings to the value of £124,320 were imported from the United Kingdom. The importations from foreign countries during that year were - Germany, £44,319; Japan, £22,494; United States of America, £58,096 ; other countries, £9,283 ; making a total of £258,512. Senator Payne's request, which would protect the interests of the British manufacturers who send to Australia cotton socks and stockings valued at about £124,320 per annum, is a matter of considerable concern to Australian manufacturers.

Senator Payne - It is a matter of interest to the people of Australia.

Senator REID - Only during recent years has the cotton-growing industry been established in Australia. People are being settled on the land to grow cotton.

Senator Verran - When will they grow it?

Senator REID - They are growing it now. In spite of set-backs, the cottongrowing industry has progressed. If we can use in Australia the cotton grown here we should do so. It is true, as Senator Payne points out that protective duties, at the outset, forces the Australian public to pay more than it otherwise would pay for certain, goods.

Senator Payne - If the benefits of increased duties will equal the amount we have to pay because of them, I shall support them.

Senator REID - The benefits are not always felt at the establishment of a new industry; but honorable senators have only to consider the benefit to Australia of the duties imposed on motor car bodies to see the advantage of protection.

Senator Guthrie - That is a different proposition.

Senator REID - The imposition of high duties on imported motor car bodies has led to the establishment of large factories in Australia. We have only recently commenced to grow cotton and to manufacture cotton goods. There is no reason why those industries should not develop in Australia as has the motor car body-building industry. I have given the value of the importations of cotton socks and stockings during 1926-27. It would be as well if I were to give similar information in respect of woollen socks and stockings. During the year mentioned we imported from the United

Kingdom woollen socks and stockings to the value of £759,751. Our importations from France were valued at £558; from Germany, £5,385; and from the United States of America, £1,280. The total value of the importations was £767,518.

Senator Payne - What was the local output ?

Senator REID - I do not know; but the figures I have given show the field which we have to exploit.

Senator Payne - Would the honorable senator be prepared to erect a tariff barrier sufficiently high to exclude goods of British manufacture?

Senator REID - Tes, if we could produce the goods here.

Senator Chapman - Would the honorable senator favour prohibition all round ?

Senator REID - So far as the cotton industry is concerned, I am willing to go to any extent that the people of Australia can afford to go in order to build it up. I am aware of the unemployment which exists in Lancashire, and I deplore it, but our first duty is to look after ourselves.

Senator Thompson - Great Britain buys most of our raw material.

Senator Crawford - - Australia is Britain's best customer.

Senator REID - The cotton industry is one in which Australia can become self-supporting. I shall support the item for the reason that it will help land settlement, an important primary industry, as well as a valuable secondary industry.

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