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Tuesday, 19 December 1911

Senator RAE (New South Wales) . - Senator Givens, and other honorable senators who support the retention of this duty, cannot claim to do so from a desire to uphold the 'banner of Protection, because such a well-known Protectionist as Sir William Lyne has stated publicly that if this duty is retained, it will result in the destruction of an Australian industry.

Senator Blakey - I have before me the H Hansard report of his speech on the subject in another place. He spoke for only a minute or two, and I do not find that he said what has been attributed to him.

Senator RAE - I do not wish to put the matter unfairly, and I admit that some Protectionists in another place were opposed to any reduction of this duty. The statement made in connexion with this branch of the leather industry is that specially prepared hides are required for the manufacture of certain high-class leather goods. It is stated that these hides have to be imported because Australian hides are not treated in such a way as to be suitable for this kind of work.

Senator Givens - It is all the more necessary that they should be properly prepared in Australia.

Senator RAE - If people will not protect themselves, I do not see why they should be coddled. In my own State, and, I believe, in the other States also, a foolish system of permitting people to brand on any part of a hide has been adopted. When some Victorian representatives were opposing a reduction of the duty, it was stated that measures were before the Victorian Parliament to remedy the evil of promiscuous branding, thereby admitting that the evil exists. This habit of branding on any part of a hide consider ably diminishes its value. In addition, it is complained that, through carelessness in flaying, marks and scars are left on the hide, and so the people engaged in the industries referred to are obliged to import the split hides they require chiefly from New Zealand. In Victoria, I understand that, there are three parties concerned, and' two manufacturers have combined to crush the third. They are all Protectionists, but two, who control the hide-splitting machines, asked for an increase of duty on. split hides, whilst the third, in selfdefence, asks that the old duty should be retained. It is contended that the work of preparing hides in Australia is inferior to the work done in New Zealand. If we impose a heavy duty on split hides, the two firms which have combined will refuse to supply split hides to the other manufacturer, and he is unable to set up expensive machinery for the purpose. Notwithstanding what Senator Givens has said, I am informed that hide-splitting machinery is expensive.

Senator Givens - A splitting machine could be obtained for £40.

Senator RAE - I am informed that the necessary machinery would cost more like £1,000. The firm is doing good work, and this is an attempt to save it from annihilation at the hands of an incipient, if not an active, trust. Sir William Lyne has stated1 that he has seen, samples of the hide when imported and in the finished state, and was able to form an opinion concerning the work expended upon it. He urged Protectionists to reduce the duty.

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