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Wednesday, 25 August 1920

Mr HUGHES (BENDIGO, VICTORIA) (Prime Minister) - I realize that the closing down of the works mentioned must involve the throwing out of employment of a large number of men, and I shall make inquiries without delay to see what steps, if any, can be taken to make wool available for scouring. Before the embargo was raised, the Government were in direct communication regarding it with all the interests involved, and it was as a result of representations made by a deputation at which these interests were represented that the embargo was raised. Certain honorable members were present at that deputation. I then put the question categorically to the representatives of each industry - to those of the packers, growers, brokers, fellmongers, and scourers - whether they were quite sure that the action which they wished me to take was compatible with the best interests of Australia. I said to the representatives of the fellmongers and scourers, " Are you quite sure that you will have enough wool to scour?" To that question their reply was " Yes.'' I asked, " Do you wish me to take this action ? " They said " Yes." I said, " Are you sure that you represent the whole industry in Victoria, New South Wales, and elsewhere?" and they replied " Yes." Under these circumstances the Government are hardly to blame for the removal of the embargo. Any blame there may be must fall on the shoulders of those who, having had the amplest opportunity to consider the matter, and being invited by me to set out exactly what was wanted for local requirements, failed to do so. Their present complaint is a poor expression of gratitude to the Government, which for the past six years have drawn upon themselves the criticism of the growers for their action in making wool available to the scourers at a much lower price than could be got anywhere else in the world. However, I shall make inquiries, and see what can be done.

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