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Friday, 9 October 1931


Mr RIORDAN (KENNEDY, QUEENSLAND) - Last year the freight on wool to London was more than the wool was fetching per bale when it got there, and this year the position is very little better. In May, 1930, when an amendmenttothe Australian Industries

Preservation Bill was being discussed, the following statement was made: -

The Dairy Produce Board here is in a position to control the whole of its exports, but it is unable to arrange a contract with the ship-owners owing to the existence of section 7a ofthe industries Preservation Act. This agreement is not intended to cover Wheat, flour; or cargo of that kind.

The tramp steamers are allowed to carry wheat and flour, and produce other than wool and dairy produce, and are doing so at rates varying from 25s. to 27s. a ton. Wool is carried by weight, and a charge of6d. a bale is made for weighting. At seven bales to the ton, this amounts to 3s. 6d. per ton for weighing. Most goods are carried by measurement. It may be objected that a ton of wool would take up a great deal more room than a ton of wheat. That is so, but, even allowing for four times the space, it should not be charged more than £5 or £5 10s. per ton, if the charges were computed on the same basisas are freight charges on flour. The excessive freight charges on wool are costing the woolgrowers of Australia £2,000,000 a year more than they should have to pay. It costs the Australian growers £4,000,000 a year to send their wool overseas. The growers have been told that their great difficulty is wages; that if arbitration court awards were abolished, everything would be all right. Shearing rates have already been cut by 22½ per cent., the station hands award has been suspended, and we will have more applications for reductions. The pastoral associations will tell the wool-grower that this is the way out. The Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) stated that there had been a 22½ per cent. reduction all round to meet the depression. Why, then, are not the shipping companies, at this time of national crisis, required to accept their share of the reduction ? Wool is, one of our chief primary products. It has provided a great deal of the national income for the last ten or fifteen years, and is entitled to some consideration. This is not the last word which I shall have to say on this matter. Next year there will be further applications to cut wages in the pastoral industry. Even under existing conditions, the wages of station hands are back to preharvester award days. The majority of small woolgrowers do not wish to impose unfair conditions upon their employees. No one regrets more than they do that the stress of economic circumstances have forced a reduction of Avages to employees in the industry. One or two small growers in my electorate who did not reduce the wages of their employees down to the award rate found when their wage sheets went to the banks, that the banker made a readjustment in accordance with the agreed pastoral companies' rate. In one case, the rate was reduced from 30s. to 20s. a week. It is strange that while conditions are so bad in the pastoral industry, this shipping ring should be allowed to exploit the people in this way. The fact that wool generally realizes more than wheat is no justification for a freight charge of £11 per ton as against 25s. per ton for wheat.







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