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Thursday, 8 August 1946


Mr FORDE (Capricornia) (Minister for the Army [12.41 a.m.]. - in reply - 1 assure honorable members that the Tariff Board's report on this industry was not held up for over a year; it was received about the middle of December and the Christmas holidays intervened before it could be considered. As I stated in my second-reading speech, the Government, disregarded the Tariff Board's recommendation because it believed that it would have brought about disaster in the cotton industry.- In its treatment of the cotton.growers the Government has been more liberal than the Tariff Board recommended. After discussing the problems of the' industry with the Queensland Cotton Board I attended a conference between the Prices Commissioner, the chairman of the Queensland Cotton Board Mr. Basson, and its general manager Mr. Young, as the result of which I am pleased to be able to announce that the Prices Stabilization Committee recommended an increase of the basic price for the 1947 crop. That recommendation has since been approved by the Prime Minister and TreasurerMr. Chifley) . The authorized basic price is 19. 5d. per lb for the 1947 Queensland crop of raw cotton, which will average approximately 1.9, 8d. per lb. for raw cotton - equivalent to 6.93d. per lb. of seed cotton - over the whole crop, including very low grade cotton which, is unsuitable for spinning. The basic price should average at least 20. 2d. per lb. of raw cotton - equivalent to approximately 7.07d. per lb. of seed cotton - suitable for spinning purposes, which represents the highest price ever received for Australian raw cotton. The 15d. per lb. net return guaranteed to growers for highgrade raw cotton under this bill for a period of five years, represents an insurance against any large decrease of the overseas price, should ensure stability in the industry, promote its further development under irrigation, and improve cultural practices, thus increasing the quality and yield of cotton crops in Australia. The general manager and the members of the Queensland. Cotton Boa'rd, and cotton-growers generally, are delighted at this proposal. With the co-operation of the- Queensland Government substantial sums of money are being provided in the national works programme to cover water conservation and irrigation schemes. These schemes will increase the yield of cotton to from 450 to 500 lb. an acre. The gross return at these yields would be from £22 2s. 6d. to £31 5s. an acre. Hand picking costs are now about 4.9d. per lb. of raw cotton. On these yields picking costs would amount to from £9 3s. 9d. to £10 4s. 2d. an acre, giving a net return of from £18 18s. 3d. to £21 0s. lOd. an acre. No authoritative figures .are available with respect to production costs. On the basis of the Commonwealth " C " series weighted average retail price index figure costs have risen since 1939 by 23.79 per cent. The net return received by growers for the 1939 crop, including bounty, was 11.241d. per lb. of raw cotton. The net return guaranteed for five years under this bill is 15d. per lb., or an increase over the 1939 return of 3.759d. per lb. ] assure honorable members that what is proposed is more generous than was expected by the Queensland Cotton Board. Indeed, the board has, as it were, written its own ticket, because everything it has asked for has been granted. Cottongrowers generally arc grateful, and I am sure that they will show their appreciation at the appropriate time.-

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

The bill.







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