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Wednesday, 21 March 1928

The CHAIRMAN - That cannot be done.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The best way out of the difficulty is for the Government to stand by its- proposals.

SenatorDuncan. - In view of the complications that have arisen would I be in order in moving " That in the opinion of this committee, item 112 should be re-submitted to the Tariff Board for further report."

The CHAIRMAN --The honorable senator would not be in order in doing so.

Senator Duncan - Would I be in order in discussing sub-item a?

The CHAIRMAN - Not unless Senator Payne temporarily withdraws the request which he has moved, and which is now before the Chair.

Senator Duncan - I do not wish to oppose adequate protection being given to this industry. When in Hobart I had an opportunity-

Senator Payne - I rise to a point of order. Prior to the dinner adjournment this item was called on, and I had occupied only five minutes of the fifteen to which I am entitled, when the sitting was suspended. Senator Duncan now has the audacity to attempt to break in and continue the debate.

The CHAIRMAN - Senator Duncanrose to a point of order. I was prepared to give the honorable senator time in which to elaborate his point, but he was rather long in doing so.

Senator Duncan - I asked for your ruling, Mr. Chairman.

The CHAIRMAN - Which I gave. I ask SenatorPayne to proceed.

Senator PAYNE - I trust I shall be able to put the case on behalf of this industry in such a way that 'Senator Duncan will be one of my strongest supporters. A very valuable fur industry, which was commenced under great difficulties, and in which I am not interested in any way, has been established in Tasmania. The company spent £40,000 in plant and operating costs; but found it difficult to successfully treat and finish ordinary rabbit skins owing principally to its inability to obtain the necessary dyes. The company stated that the industry could be successfully carried on if it were given reasonable facilities for importing the necessary dyes from Europe, and these having been provided, it has operated so successfully during the last six months that its sales have amounted to £22,000. I submit samples of the finished skins in the most' popular shades of coney. I have submitted a request for the very moderate duties of 25 per cent.

British, 35 per cent, intermediate, and 40 per cent, general-

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).I direct the honorable senator's attention to the fact that when the item was before the committee last week he moved for the imposition of duties of 30 per cent. British, 35 per cent, intermediate, and 45 per cent, general tariff. Is it the wish of the.honorable senator to amend his request so that the rates shall read - 25 per cent. British, 35 per cent, intermediate, and 40 per cent, general?

Senator PAYNE - Yes. I desire to submit my request in the amended form set out by me at the outset of the debate on the item this evening.

Request, by leave, amended accordingly.

Senator PAYNE - When this item, was last under consideration, the Minister suggested that it should be postponed in order to give him an opportunity to consider the effect of the higher duties proposed and the amended rates which I now submit, have been agreed to by the Government. A large number of fur coats, consisting of different . varieties of fur, - are made in Australia, but I am asking that this protection . shall apply only to rabbit skins. In view of the results which have followed the use of proper dyes, it must be apparent to every one that this industry, which is now in its infancy, when firmly established, will be of great importance to Australia.

Senator Thompson - Will it mean increasing the number of rabbits ?

Senator PAYNE - No;I know the quantity of rabbit skins annually exported and the quantity used by our local factories. Even if the number treated locally increased ten-fold, it would not affect our export trade. Here we have an opportunity to deal with a raw product, and we should endeavour to foster this industry. It is better for us to manufacture articles of clothing from materials produced in this country than to export skins and purchase the finished articles from Germany, Belgium, and France. I have always favoured giving every consideration to British manufacturers and also of doing all we can to foster Australian trade.

Senator Elliott - What is the difference between the price of the raw material and the finished article?

Senator PAYNE - I do not know the present value of rabbit skins, but I can give the value of the finished article, samples of which I have submitted. The cost of treating the skins abroad is 9d. each, but owing to the enormous difference in the cost of the material required in their treatment in Australia, the cost here is about Is.10d. a skin. This is due mainly to the high duties imposed on the ingredients used in the tanning and finishing process. At present, these. skins are sold to the wholesale trade at from 25s. to 50s. a dozen, according to size and quality, whilst imported skins of similar grade are landed at from 19s. to 40s. The duty of 40 per cent, that I am asking for will make up the difference between these prices. I am not asking for prohibitive duties, but for a tariff that is lower than that imposed for the protection of any other Australian industry.

Senator Duncan - Is the 40 per cent, duty lower than that afforded to any other industry ?

Senator PAYNE - Yes; to any industry manufacturing solely from raw materials produced in Australia. The preliminary difficulties have been overcome, and in order that the industry may be carried on successfully, more capital has to be raised, but this will depend entirely upon the protection to be afforded. I know of some who are . willing to subscribe additional capital if the industry can be placed on a commercial basis. Even if this protection is afforded, the company will not be able to make large profits, but it hopes to be able to pay its way. It should not be necessary to labour this question, as the advantage of having such an industry firmly established in Australiamustbe apparent to every one, particularly when fur garments are now so extensively worn.

Senator Reid - Why should not Australian women also wear Australian hosiery? The honorable senator advocated the use of imported socks and stockings.

Senator PAYNE - I am not advocating a prohibitive duty against which British . manufacturers cannot compete. This is a- comparatively low rate.

Senator Reid - Why should not Australian women wear Australian hose?

The honorable senator did not advocate the use of Australian goods the other day.

Senator PAYNE - I have always advocated the use of Australian-made goods, but have opposed exc'essive duties against British manufacturers. Stockings are worn by all women, but the same cannot be said of fur coats. I trust this request will have the support of the committee.

Senator Ogden - I am " somewhat diffident in rising to a point of order, but it seems to me that the request is unconstitutional.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator PlainsSenator Payne is in order in moving that the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item.

Senator Ogden - I shall be glad, Mr. Chairman, if you will allow me to state my point of order. I direct your attention to section 53 of the Constitution, which states, inter alia -

The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.

I understand that it is not competent for any private member to move for an increase of the tariff duties.

Senator Duncan - Senator Payne has proposed not an amendment but a request to the House of Representatives to amend the item.

The CHAIRMAN - I remind the honorable senator that it is a request, not an amendment, that is before the committee. Senator. Payne is in order in submitting a request to the House of Representatives to increase the tariff.

Senator PAYNE - The moderate amount of protection which I am asking is necessary. Employees engaged in this industry in France, Belgium and Germany work from 55 hours to 60 hours a week, as against 44 hours in Australia. In those countries the wages for men range from 25s. to 60s. a week, compared with from £4 4s. to £6 a week in Australia. For boys the wages on the continent are 16s. or 17s. a week, and in Australia from 20s. to 45s. Women on the continent receive from 15s. to 35s. a week, and in Australia from 40s. to 70s.; while girls get from 5s. to 12s. a week, compared with from 15s. to 35s. a week in Australia.. There is the same difference in the cost of dyes and other materials. For instance, dyes cost 6s. 3d. per kilo. on the continent, as against 15s. in Australia; peroxide of hydrogen 8£d., as against ls. 6£d. in Australia, and acetic "acid 3s. 3d., compared with 21s. in Australia. In the circumstances it would not be too much to ask for an ad valorem tariff of 50 per cent, instead of 40 per cent.; but I realize that it is not wise to ask for a high duty at the outset. The protection I am advocating will, I believe, be sufficient to place the industry on a satisfactory footing.

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