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Friday, 1 May 1936

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) . - The previous British preferential duty on this item was 6d. per lb. ; the Government now proposes to reduce it to 4½d. per lb. The duty in the general tariff also has been reduced. What is the reason for this reduction? Is there any kind of soap manufactured overseas which is superior to the product of Australia? I am familiar with all the principal brands made in this country, and I am not aware that any brands are obtainable from the United Kingdom which are in any way superior to the best Australian soaps. Fastidious people, like those who prefer Peek Frean biscuits to the Australian brands, may demand special brands of imported soap. They have a right to obtain such brands, but they can reasonably be asked to pay a heavy duty on them. There has been a deliberate attempt in every tariff schedule introduced by the present government to decrease the protection afforded to local industries. I have not the figures showing the importations of soap, but according to a book entitled Your Money's Worth, in the Parliamentary Library, there is a good deal of power in advertising. That book mentions the fact that the Parisian women send to America for their requirements of fancy soaps and perfumes, and the American women send to Paris in order to satisfy their needs. If some Australian women wish to purchase fancy soaps not manufactured in Australia I have no objection to their getting them. Instead of reducing duties on this commodity we should increase them, so that we shall not injure the Australian soap industry, which is highly efficient and provides employment for thousands of men and women. Can the Minister state the quantities and values of soap imported from the United Kingdom?

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