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Tuesday, 27 October 1964


Senator MORRIS (Queensland) .- 1 refer to Division No. 380, sub-division 4, item 02, "Tobacco research (for payment to the credit of the Tobacco Industry Trust Account), £130,000". What I am about to say has some bearing also on item 09, which relates to payments to the States for the administration of re-establishment loans to the tobacco industry and to investigation and review committees. I remind the Committee that I raised the matter 1 am about to discuss during the consideration of the estimates of the Department of Health, but at the request of the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) I deferred my remarks until the debate on the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry. The Minister advised me to follow that course because the matter comes more appropriately under the items to which 1 have just referred.

Might I digress for a moment by referring to the 1963-64 annual report of the Queensland Department of Primary Industries, which I have just received. It shows that during the past year 16,000,000 lb. of tobacco was produced, an increase of 12 per cent, on the production for the previous year. This is quite a large increase. Unfortunately, although there has been this increase in the quantity of tobacco produced, there has not been a commensurate increase in the incomes of those engaged in the industry. At the recent tobacco sales in north Queensland 654 tons of leaf, out of a total of 7,406 tons offered, remained unsold, not having attracted any bids. The unsold portion represented 8.8 per cent, of the total offerings. In the previous year, 3.5 per cent, of the total offerings remained unsold. The problem is that, although we are growing more tobacco, unfortunately the people engaged in the industry are not able to sell the whole of their production. That is not the fault of this Government. I make that point most emphatically. I recall that in about 1949 the percentage of Australian leaf which had to be included in tobacco manufactured in Australia was very low. I think it was about 10 per cent., or slightly less than that. The present Government has increased the percentage year by year, and today it is much higher. I cannot give the exact figure, but it is more than 40 per cent.


Senator Anderson - It is 41.5 per cent.


Senator MORRIS - That represents a tremendous improvement and is of tremendous encouragement to the tobacco growers. However, the problem of unsold leaf is greater this year than in previous years.

I wish now to discuss the matter that I raised when the Committee was discussing the estimates for the Department of Health. I pointed out that Sir Ernest Marsden, a well known scientist, had devoted a lot of time to studying the problem of cancer, particularly the relation of tobacco smoking to lung cancer; that as a result of his research, and the research of a number of other people overseas, it had been discovered that certain properties in tobacco were responsible for the disease; and that when Sir Ernest Marsden returned from overseas he said that we could easily reduce the incidence of lung cancer by onethird, because it was known that certain tobaccos, to a greater degree than others, were responsible for this disease. The Minister, in reply, told me that certain tobaccos were much more harmful than others. The effects depend upon certain factors, namely the variety of the plant, the locality in which it is grown, the soil conditions in the particular locality, the mode of harvesting, the time of harvesting - I assume that means the age of the plant at the time of harvesting - the particular process of curing that is employed, and the method of ageing that is employed.

I think that this matter is pertinent to item 02, in sub-division 4 of Division No. 380, which has to do with tobacco research. There is probably no more important field of research than the field to which I am referring now in somewhat general terms. We know that there has been a great deal of propaganda and discussion about the dangerous effects of tobacco smoking. Great efforts have been made to induce people to reduce the quantity of tobacco that they use, but without much avail. The character of people, not only in Australia but also elsewhere, is such that, irrespective of the dangers involved, they persist in the use of tobacco. I suppose that those of us who have been smoking for a long time are not innocent in this regard.


Senator Ormonde - Senator Dittmer and I gave up smoking.


Senator MORRIS - Congratulations. Perhaps there are very few men as strong minded. 1 believe that there is no field of research which is more vital, and which is covered by this general vote, than research to establish even further the seven factors 1 have detailed. It might be possible (through research to produce an Australian tobacco which could earn world renown as a tobacco free, or almost free, of these injurious substances. Should the Department of Primary Industry through tobacco research achieve this result of a tobacco reasonably free from damaging substances, we would not have the situation I referred to earlier, where 8.8 per cent, of the tobacco offered for sale remained unsold at a time when the prices obtained for tobacco were lower than they had been in the past four years.

I commend this thought to the Minister and to the Department of Primary Industry. 1 appreciate that Senator Anderson represents the Minister for Primary Industry who is in another place. I offer the strong recommendation that, in the light of comments made by Sir Ernest Marsden, our research in this field should be directed toward dis covering how to eliminate the injurious properties of tobacco. By this means we could help considerably an industry which is worth many millions of pounds to Australia and, in particular, is of great value to Queensland.







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