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Tuesday, 12 August 1902


That the amendment requested be not made.

We originally proposed that cotton socks should be dutiable at 20 per cent., and that other socks should be subject to a duty of 25 per cent. ; but in deference to the wishes of a number of honorable members, we reduced the duty on cotton socks to 10 per cent. The effect of the alteration suggested by the Senate would be to make all socks except those containing silk, subject to a duty of 10 per cent. This would cover woollen socks, and therefore the manufacturers of woollen socks would be left without any protection whatever, unless the duty upon yarns were reduced from 10 per cent. to 5 per cent. as the Senate suggests. A considerable number of people are employed in this industry, and we believe that we are following the right course in proposing that the request should not be acceded to.

Mr. CONROY(Werriwa).- If the protectionist theory that the imposition of a duty cheapens the article to the consumer held good, the duty upon yarns should have the effect of conferring an advantage upon the manufacturers by cheapening their raw material. Therefore they should be in a position to carry on their operations without the aid of any great measure of protection. Unless it is shown that the reduction of the duty would place the manufacturers under a great disability, the request of the Senate should be acceded to.

Mr. BROWN(Canobolas).- The Senate proposes to maintain a distinction between the duty upon the raw material and that upon the finished article, and if their suggestions are carried out, the duties will be fairly protective in their incidence, and the revenue will not suffer to any appreciable extent.

Sir WILLIAMMcMILLAN (Wentworth). - If the requests of the Senate were acceded to in this instance, there would still be a fair distinction between the duty upon the raw material and that levied upon the manufactured article. In order to be consistent, the Treasurer should impose a uniform duty upon all cotton and woollen socks, because it might be just as difficult to distinguish between these classes of goods as between other cotton and woollen garments. Socks may be regarded as one of the necessaries of life, and we should reduce the duty to as low a figure as possible.

Sir GEORGE TURNER - If the honorable member desires, I have no objection to withdraw my motion for the present, so that we may consider the next request relating to the duty on yarns before we arrive at a decision regarding socks and stockings.

Mr. MAUGER(Melbourne Ports).The manufacture of socks and stockings constitutes a very large industry in Victoria. Some of the big distributing houses are making large quantities of these and other woollen goods, and hundreds of operatives are employed in their factories. There is no reason why this industry should be entirely deprived of the protection now afforded.

Motion withdrawn.

Item postponed.

Item 71. Yarns, partly or wholly of wool ; ad valorem, 10 per cent.

Request.- That the duty be reduced to 5 per cent.


That the amendment requested be not made.

We originally proposed that this duty should be 15 per cent., but, in order to meet some objections raised by honorable members, we agreed to reduce it to 10 per cent. We are now asked to consent to its reduction to 5 per cent. These yarns are now being made on a large scale at the Ballarat woollen mills, and I have a report from the Collector of Customs in Sydney, who says : -

On the approach of federation, and in a certain anticipation of a reasonable duty, a complete plant for the manufacture of yarns, worsted and woollen, was imported into this State, and is now in full working order, the number of hands directly employed being above 40. A 10 per cent. rate is considered the lowest at which it would be profitable to manufacture ; and should the suggested reduction be adopted, any further development of the industry could not be thought of ; in fact, it is doubtful if present operations could be continued.

Seeing that the industry is established both in Victoria and New South Wales, there is very little fear of anything in the nature of a monopoly. Under such circumstances, we think that a duty of 10 per cent. is a fair one to place upon this particular article.

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