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Wednesday, 7 July 1920

Mr HIGGS (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) - Has the Prime Minister any information as to the truth of the statement that British manufacturers are selling Australian wool to former enemy subjects? Is there any embargo on the sale of Australian wool in London in those directions?

Mr HUGHES - I saw several references to this matter in the press last week. I think it was stated there that the British Government had sold about £4,000,000 worth of wool to Germany, but this was subsequently contradicted. It was then I think, stated that it was the British holders of wool who had sold the parcels to Germany. I am not in a position to speak as to the truth of either of those statements ; but, for the information of. the honorable member, the House, and the country, I may say that the Commonwealth Government, some months ago, took up the position that it did not consider that the British Government had a right to dispose of Australian wool other than by auction, except after consultation with the Commonwealth Government, who were the trustees for the growers, as to the price thereof. Honorable members will recollect that some 450,000 bales had been sold at issue prices, which might be £40, £50, £60, or £70 per bale less than the real value. Against the recurrence of this we protested, and the British Government admitted the correctness of the position we took up. I am 'not in a position to say whether wool has been sold to Germany, either by the British Government or by private individuals.

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