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Thursday, 25 February 1932

Mr PATERSON (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) - No ; the leader of the Lang party. That honorable gentleman to-day spoke of the heavy burden of exchange. Without quoting his exact words, I feel sure that I shall be able correctly to interpret what was in his mind. He said that a tremendous burden had been imposed upon the Commonwealth by the present adverse exchange rate; that, in effect, the Commonwealth was obliged to pay to Great Britain and the United States of America an enormous sum over and above the actual amount of interest due on overseas loans. Let me tell the honorable gentleman that it doesnot take one more bale of wool, one more bag of wheat, one more box ofbutter, or one more carcass of lamb to meet our interest indebtedness overseas, no matter what the exchange rate may be. Our exports go to the Mother Country and we get credit for them in London in English money, which is applied by the Commonwealth to the payment of Australia's interest bill in London or New York. Any premium which the Commonwealth Government has to pay, because of the adverse exchange rate; goes not to Great Britain, or the United States of America, but to the producers of our exported surplus products. It is a premium paid to our primary producers. It does not add one penny to our payments to Great Britain, the United States of America, or any other country to which we owe money. It does, however, cost the Government something. The exchange premium goes into the pockets of those people who, at least, provide the Government with the means to meet its interest bill overseas. I would add that a sudden drop or break in the exchange would be calamitous for Australia, and if it occurred I do not know whether we should be able to carry on; because the exchange rate to-day means something like 8d. per bushel on wheat, about 24d. per lb. on the average price of wool, and about 2½d. to 3d. per lb. on butter. It means the difference between a price which enables the producer to continue his operations at a time of depressed world markets and a price under which he would be unable to carry on at all. I support the bill without reservation; but I hope the Government will give every consideration to the various constructive suggestions that have been made in regard to it.

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