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Wednesday, 29 August 1906


Mr WILSON (Corangamite) .- A very pertinent question occurs to me in regard to this proposal, and that is, where is the necessary money to come from. Except in Victoria and New South Wales, the States Treasuries .have been nearly depleted. In private life, a man sometimes feels that a, certain thing is absolutely necessary, but, on looking at his bankbook, or examining his pockets, finds that there is no money with which to obtain it, and that the probability is that his income will not allow him to secure it for, perhaps, some years. When that happens, he, perforce, does without for a time. We should act in the same way in dealing with the money of the taxpayers, and, if we cannot afford certain expenditure, should not undertake it. The Treasurer's Budget shows that we have no money to spare, and, therefore, while it may_.be desirable to give bounties for the encouragement of production, and to establish a central agricultural bureau on the lines laid down by the honorable member for Echuca, we have no right to increase our expenses.


Mr Wilks - The Government propose to throw away ,£200,000 a year on'' penny postage.


Mr WILSON - They have no chance of carrying that proposal. No doubt Victoria and New South Wales could pay their share of the proposed expenditure, but have we a right to ask Tasmania, whose finances are in a very serious state, to do so?


Sir William Lyne - Tasmania was never better off than she is now.


Mr WILSON - The representatives of that State say that the position is otherwise, and that the direct taxation borne by its people is higher than that borne by the residents of any other State.


Sir William Lyne - Yet every one is well off.


Mr WILSON - Surely the Minister does not suggest that the more the State takes out of the pockets of the people the better off they are ! Then Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia are not in a position to pay their share of this expenditure.


Mr Wilkinson - Queensland will not grumble.


Mr WILSON - No, because the greater part of the money will be spent in that State.


Mr Fisher - In Australia. There is no mention of Queensland in the Bill.


Mr WILSON - That is so, and no doubt we must look at the proposal from a Commonwealth stand-point ; but what the honorable member for Moreton suggests is that most of the money proposed to be spent in bounties will be given for the encouragement of industries which can be carried on only in Queensland.


Sir William Lyne - The' honorable member is mistaken.


Mr WILSON - Can cocoa be grown in any but a tropical climate?


Mr Carpenter - It cannot be grown in Victoria.


Sir William Lyne - It can be grown iri New South Wales.


Mr WILSON - We know that cotton has been grown experimentally in the northern parts of Victoria, and can be grown in New South Wales and South Australia, but it is being grown chiefly in Queens^ land, and that is the State in which the industry would be most likely to develop under suitable labour conditions.


Mr Hutchison - What does the honorable member mean by suitable 'labour conditions ?


Mr WILSON -By the employment of labour such as we do not allow to enterAustralia.


Mr Hutchison - And never will', I hope.


Mr WILSON - And never will. The production of cocoa, coffee, cotton, and rice are industries for black labour.


Mr McColl -Not the production of rice.


Mr WILSON - Most of the rice grown in the world is produced by means of cheap coloured labour.


Mr McColl - A great deal' of rice is now being produced by white labour.


Mr WILSON - Most of the rice grown in the world comes from countries where cheap coloured labour is employed. Bounties are to be offered for the production of fibre from flax, ramie, sisal hemp, New Zealand flax, and pandanus.


Sir William Lyne - Most of those are industries which will have to be carried on in the southern parts of Australia.


Mr WILSON - Yes. There is a fairly large quantity of flax growing on my own farm.


Sir William Lyne - The honorable member may be able to get part of the bounty.


Mr WILSON - I do not intend to compete for it, though I shall be glad to give anv one who wishes to do so a few plants.


Mr Skene - Does it pay to cultivate this flax in New Zealand?


Mr WILSON - Most of the flax used there grows under natural conditions, and I believe that, owing to the discovery of anew process for treating it, the, flax industry is 'paying handsomely; but, on a place owned by my father-in-law, it was a long time before profitable use could be made of the plant, although a large area of land was covered with it.


Mr Skene - I am under the impression that it does not pav to cultivate New Zealand flax.


Mr WILSON - I doubt if it does. Most of the flax now used grows naturally.


Mr Fisher - Good luck to those who are making the industry a profitable one.


Mr WILSON - I am glad to know of their prosperity. A bounty is also proposed for the canning of fish. At Port Fairy, in the Wannon electoral division, a large canning factory was established a year or two ago to deal with rabbits, and, in the off season, with fish, and a similar factory has been established at Warrnambool. But at both places it was found that a supply of fish which would make their operations successful was not available.


Mr Hutchison - Wait until the Commonwealth trawler gets to work.


Mr WILSON - I think we shall find that, instead of getting fish, we are losing sovereigns as the result of having a Commonwealth trawler. I say with sorrow that, in my opinion, there is not in Australian waters a fish supply which would justify the establishment of fish-canning factories. We cannot compete successfully in the canning of fish with other countries.


Sir William Lyne - Our herrings are as good as, and as plentiful as, those in the north of Scotland.


Mr Hutchison - We have magnificent fish of many varieties.


Mr WILSON - Experiments carried on from time to time in the various States by means of trawlers have not proved successful.


Mr Hutchison - The right honorable member for East Sydney says that these experiments have been successful.


Mr WILSON - My recollectionis that they have not been successful. A bounty is to be offered for the production of sweetened and condensed milk.


Sir William Lyne - Victorian producers would be able to take advantage of that bounty.


Mr WILSON - Have we a right to offer a bounty for the production of condensed milk ?


Sir William Lyne - Yes, seeing that we now import nearly £200,000 worth per annum.


Mr WILSON - No doubt we do; but we have been manufacturing condensed milk for many years.


Sir William Lyne - And we cannot compete with the imported article.


Mr WILSON - The industry is now a profitable one. Only recently a private company, the members of which came from New Zealand, bought out a co-operative milk company at Rosebrook, in the Western District of Victoria, in order to start the condensed and powdered milk industry. This took place long before the public, at any rate, knew that any bounties were to be offered for the production of such com- modities. The company embarked upon the enterprise as a purely commercial undertaking, and if the proposed bounties are granted, they will receive a very handsome present . at the expense of the general taxpayer. Any advantage derived from the bounties will not go to the producers of milk, but to the company.


Mr Hutchison - Does not the honorable member think that the bounties will lead to the establishment of other companies ?


Mr WILSON - No. I think that if the company in question are successful, that fact alone will induce others to engage in similar undertakings." The Commonweal thhas no money to spare to devote to such purposes as those contemplated by the Bill. We are not in a position to take up any fancy schemes at present. I should be very glad to assist the industries mentioned in the schedule if we had plenty of money ; but our financial position is such that we should hesitate to incur any additional obligations. The olive oil industry has been carried on for many years with great success in South Australia and in other parts of the Commonwealth, and we have no 'right to take money out of the pocketsi of the people and give it to olivegrowers and others who are now making a satisfactory profit. Linseed oil and essential oils have been successfully manufactured in Australia, although I do not know that we have produced any appreciable quantities of castor, colza, or sunflower oil. It is an open question as to whether we should throw away any money in endeavouring to grow rice under the conditions which prevail in the Commonwealth. The Minister had something to say with . regard to the large number of rubber trees that are now growing in Queensland. I should like to know whether the Minister referred to native or cultivated 'rubber trees.


Sir William Lyne - I referred to the native rubber tree.


Mr WILSON - The Minister should know that the native trees do not produce an article so suitable for commercial purposes as that produced bv thecultivated rubber trees. I think that the Bill should specify that the bounty will be payable only in respect to rubber suitable for commercial purposes. As the honorable member for New England has pointed out, many years must elapse before a plantation of rubber trees can become productive. The Para rubber is the best, and I should like to know whether we have in any part of Australia a climate suitable for the production of that commodity. Probably the most suitable land would be found in the northern parts of Queensland and in the Northern Territory, and by offering the bonus we might encourage some persons to give up the cultivation of sugar cane in favour of rubber. It must be remembered that the present Government will not have to find the money required for the payment of bonuses, and I do not see any reason why we should hamper future Ministries by passing a measure such as that now before us. In view of the financial position of the States and of the Commonwealth, we should not entertain a scheme such as is now submitted to us, but defer its consideration until we have more money at our disposal.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3 -

1.   The bounties payable under this Act shall be at the rates specified in the schedule, and shall be payable in respect of goods : -

(a)   of a merchantable quality which have been grown on or produced from not less than the prescribed acreage and within the prescribed period ; and

(b)   which have been produced by white labour only.

2.   Bounties shall be payable to the grower or producer of the goods in the manner prescribed and subject to the prescribed conditions.

Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -

That after the word " producer," in sub-clause 2, the words "or both" be inserted.

Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -

That the following words be added : - " For the purposes of this section, ' producer ' shall include any person who manufactures or treats the raw material in such manner as to produce therefrom goods of a merchantable quality."


Mr Page - Do I understand that the manufacturer and not the producer will derive the benefit of the bonus under the Minister's proposal ?







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