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Tuesday, 5 August 1930

Senator SAMPSON (Tasmania) . - The bill seems to be having an unfavorable reception. Its object, I take it, is that some day Australia shall be able to make its own sewing machines, but meanwhile, if the bounty were granted, housewives would have to pay substantially more for their machines than they do at the present time. I should imagine that a bounty would be quite unnecessary in this industry, because the amount of protection afforded through the tariff is enormous. There is a specific duty of 10s. British, and £1 general tariff, upon each imported sewing machine head.' There arc also duties of 75 per cent. upon the table, and 45per cent. on the ironwork. The totalduty, apart from the proposed bounty of £2, represents an increase of approximately 200 per cent. in the cost of these machines. This proposal is not to benefit an existing industry, but to put easy money into the pockets of, company promoters. This is no time to adopt a spoonfeeding process to encourage such a fantastic scheme as that contemplated by the bill. . It would mean the resuscitation of a bankrupt company. The Tariff Board's report on this matter is full of " ifs " and "buts " ; it contains nothing of tangible value ; it is vagueand elusive in its terms. One would be a superoptimist to hope that Australia would benefit from the establishment of such an industry, or that these machines would be produced in this country in any great quantity. The secret of success in the manufacture of sewing machines, as of almost any other article, is mass production. Nobody believes that the factory proposed to be established, if the bill is passed, would adopt mass production. Drophead machines, . thoroughly guaranteed, can be. purchased from any large general providers for from £10 to £.13 10s. each.' They are sent all over the world in enormous quantities. I do not think that the demand for locally-made machines would be sufficient to make the establishment of an up-to-date plant a profitable venture. In view of the terrific tariff imposts already in operation, I fail to see that a bounty isrequired. The. whole proposal seems to be rather unsavoury, and I trust that the Senate will reject the bill.

Debate (on motion by SenatorHoare) adjourned.

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