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Tuesday, 5 May 1936

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) . - Whilst I am sure that' we are all indebted to the Minister (Senator A. J. McLachlan) for the painstaking manner in which he has endeavoured to dear away our difficulties with regard to the duty on particular classes of materials, his explanation is not satisfactory to Queensland Labour senators. I again emphasize the importance to Queensland of the cotton-growing industry. In 1932, there were 29,995 acres under cultivation for cotton, and in 1933 the area had increased to 68,203 acres. In the five years from 1929 to 1933 the value of the output of Queensland cotton was £1,256,594. The Opposition is of the opinion that a higher rate should be imposed on the lower-weight material. I know something about the industry of cotton-growing in Queensland, but I am not familiar with the business of cotton-spinning, so I rely upon a letter, which I have received from Davies, Coop and Company Limited, cottonspinners, of Melbourne. I do not think that any one will question their right to speak with authority on this subject. In a letter to me, under date the 11th March, 1936, they state -

We desire to advise that we have taken up with the Minister for Trade and Customs the matter of the duties on the cotton piece goods under the above tariff item. We refer to the recommendations of the Tariff Board, dated the 25th July, 1934, where the board recommended that the duties be applicable on cloths weighing 3 oz. a square yard and over. The Government brought down the tariff on these piece goods to apply on cloths weighing 0 oz. a square yard and over. Consequently, all the market is now going to Japan for cloths weighing 6 oz. and under, for the substitution of the heavier cloths.

We request that, in the ratification of the tariff the recommendations of the Tariff Board be adopted as per schedule.

This year we expect to use 8,000 bales of Queensland cotton. The industry would absorb many more bales of Queensland cotton, which are at present going to Japan, if the users could obtain the market they should have, as recommended by the Tariff Board, and also intended by the Government.

If the higher weight limit will have the effect of increasing trade with Japan, instead of providing more work for Australian factories, and encouraging cottongrowing in Queensland, the Government should not continue obstinate, but should agree to impose a higher duty on the low weight materials.

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