Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 1 August 1930

Senator COOPER (QUEENSLAND) - Are any sewing machines manufactured at Bendigo now?

Senator DUNN - No. The factory, with its plant, is there; but no machines are being made. If another war broke out' to-morrow the traders in sewing machines would, in effect, wrap themselves 'in Union Jacks; but, when it comes to assisting an Australian industry, they prefer to send their money to other countries. The Tariff Board's report, with reference to the evidence tendered in favour of the request, continues -

The matter was, however, proceeded with, and in the course of twelve months so satisfactory was the progress made that the company was in a position to make sample machines. At the time of the public inquiry the output of the company had reached 40 machines per week, or about - 2,000 machines per annum. It was considered that if a bounty, as requested, were paid, the output would be very considerably increased. It was estimated that, given the demand, the output of the- company could within twelve months be increased to 40,000 machines per annum, or the total estimated requirements of the Commonwealth.

Each year about 54,000 sewing machines of British, American, and German manufacture enter this country. Honorable senators will, therefore, see that there is a home market to be' exploited. I cannot understand honorable senators, especially those representing Victoria, not supporting a measure to assist the establishment of what in time will be a flourishing Australian industry, if granted a little assistance now -

The company had from its inception to the date of the inquiry, manufactured 500 machines, while a further 5,000 machines were in the course of construction, and the company also had on hand large quantities of spare parts.

The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) gave us to understand that it was not possible to manufacture in Australia the more intricate parts of a sewing machine. I am wondering if the right honorable gentleman has inspected the Lithgow small arms factory? I had an opportunity to dp so a few months ago in company with a number of my colleagues on this side of the Senate, and I was amazed at the large quantity of modern plant engaged in manufacturing the most . intricate machinery parts. I invite other honorable senators to accept the invitation that has been extended by the management to visit Lithgow, and see w.hat is being done there. The Sydney Morning Herald, in an article published in yesterday's issue, announced that the Lithgow factory was now manufacturing certain portions of electrical equipment required for talking machines to be used in Australian picture houses. This report effectively destroys the contention- of the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition that Australian manufacturing establishments -are not in -a position ' to produce the more intricate parts of sewing machines. The report goes on to state -

The castings, though not made by the applicant company, are made in Australia. The cabinet work is also done in Australia - some at the works of the Bendigo Sewing Machine Company) and the remainder by outside firms. Australian timber is used in making the cabinets, while the metal used in the manufacture is of Australian production. The greater proportion of the company's manufacturing plant is of Australian manufacture.

No one can find fault with Australian timbers. I am sure we are all glad of the opportunity, when friends visit us in Canberra, to conduct them on a tour of inspection of this magnificent building, and we point with pride to the many Australian timbers which are used in the construction, and for the numerous articles of furniture. The walls of this chamber are panelled with wonderful timbers.

Senator Payne - Does the honorable senator know where it came from?

Senator DUNN - Some of it, I believe, came from Tasmania, and some from the forests in Western Australia and Queensland. Australia has some of the finest timbers in the world. It is idle, therefore, to suggest that local timber is not suitable for the manufacture of cabinets of Australian sewing machines. The report continues

In the actual manufacture of sewing machines, 60 employees were engaged by the Bendigo Sewing Machines Limited at the time of the public inquiry, while the making of the castings and cabinet provided employment for at least fifteen more. The weekly wages paid amounted to £180.

Further employment will be given in subsidiary industries. I cannot understand the attitude of those honorable senators opposite who would prefer to see Australian money sent to Germany or some other foreign country in payment for imported sewing machines. Senator Colebatch would have Australian workers walking the streets in search of employment, while German workers were fully employed manufacturing articles for use in Australian homes.

Senator Sir Hal Colebatch - The honorable senator knows that what he is saying is absolutely untrue.

Senator DUNN - If the honorable senator will vote for this bill, I shall apologize through the President for what I have said concerning him. The report states further -

The company is at present making only household sewing machines, and it is claimed the locally-made machines arc equal to the imported. Severe competition from overseas is being experienced by the local industry. The price at which the locally-made machines arc sold is £15 15s. net cash, whereas some similar imported machines are sold as low as £12 10s. Some of the imported machines are sold at higher prices than the locally-made machines. For instance, the Singer machine is sold on extended terms for £24 4s., and for cash at £10 4s. Whereas imported machines can be landed in any State at the same prices, locallymade machines have of necessity to pay freight to the different States.

This is an effective answer to the statement made by Senator Cooper by way of interjection.

I well remember the sound advice given by the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition when he was VicePresident of the Executive Council in the Bruce-Page Administration. He urged senators to read carefully all bills presented and, if possible, to become conversant with their provisions. Being new to the Senate at the time, I took his advice to heart. I have since been read ing all bills carefully, and, generally, I know their contents. It is some satisfaction to me to know that all my statements concerning this industry are borne out by the report of the Tariff Board. Apparently, Senator Cooper is not well informed. There appears to be a disposition, on the part of some honorable senators opposite, not to support this measure, because the factory which will manufacture the sewing machine heads is housed in an unpretentious galvanized iron building in Bendigo, Victoria. Possibly, if it were ft huge structure like the Singer Manufacturing Company's establishment, or some of the larger American concerns in Philadelphia, they would be prepared to assist the industry. " Why Bendigo ?" asked the Leader of the Opposition, referring to the city in which it is proposed to establish this' industry. That remark was typical of the right honorable gentleman's attitude to the proposal. He went on to point out that Bendigo had no coal supply, that it had to depend on the State Electricity Commission for its electric power, and that altogether the "environment" was not suitable. Surely young people in country towns should have an opportunity to learn a trade? And why should not the children of farmers also be given a chance to become skilled artisans? We can make this possible if we encourage the establishment of secondary industries in provincial cities and the larger centres in different parts of the Commonwealth.

Senator Sir Hal Colebatch - Unfortunately, trade unions will not give anybody a chance to lea.rn a trade nowadays.

Senator DUNN - The same might be said of the organizations governing the medical and. legal professions. The Sunshine Harvester Company, now one of the largest concerns of its kind in Australia, was established originally at Ballarat, in Victoria. I am a wholehearted supporter of this proposal, and I hope that it will bc accepted by the Senate.

The Leader of the Opposition gave us a new version of the " Song of the Shirt " which, as everyone knows, was written by Tom Hood. He was forced by economic circumstances to earn his living on the Continent, and he dedicated this poem to the widows and wage workers in England whose position, in those days, was appalling. But the Leader of the Opposition quoted only the first two verses. I intend to read the last two. They are as follow: -

Oh! but for oue short hour!

A respite however brief!

No blessed leisure for Love or Hope,

But only time for Grief!

A little weeping wouldease my heart,

But in their briny bed

My tears must stop, for every drop

Hinders needle and thread! "

With fingers weary "and worn,

With eyelids heavy and red.

A woman sat in unwomanlyrags,

Plyingherneedle and thread. -

Suggest corrections