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Tuesday, 8 March 1932

Mr HAWKER (Wakefield) (Minister for Markets) .- The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) i3 a dyed-in-the-wool prohibitionist, and, in showing an almost wanton unfairness by not quoting all the relevant portions of the statements of various members of the Government which he read, hegave a speech that was true to form. The Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page), in a most moderate and conciliatory way, advanced an alternative proposal to the Government's, and did so in a manner which demands for it serious consideration. That consideration it will receive. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson), however, under a cloak of professed friendliness, and behind a profession that he did not desire to make political capital, delivered a speech which was full of venom, and in many particulars inconsistent with his previous utterances. His was a speech which makes one understand why the New State movement, which is capable of doing much good in Australia, has remained sterile. When it is supported by men who change their opinions to suit their political needs, one can understand what a liability they must be even to a cause as sound as the New State movement.

It is not very long ago since another primary industry experienced an unhealthy boom after it had received very generous help from this Parliament. I refer to the doradillo grape-growing industry, which concerns more particularly South Australia. Dyring the war prices for these grapes had been high. There was a rapid expansion of the industry, and generous treatment was meted out to it by the Government. In the course of time it became evident that this assistance was leading the industry into trouble by creating an artificial boom. The Deputy Leader of the Country party (Mr. Paterson) introduced a measure which I now regard as having been justified, although at the time I criticized it.

Owing to the increased preference granted by Britain, a bill was introduced reducing the bounty payable on wine exported. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde), speaking on that bill, said -

The Minister knows that this bill will bring ruin to thousands of grape-growers in Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia. They will not be able to lind a profitable market for their fruit.

The comment from the honorable member for New England was " bunkum !"

Mr Thompson - I ask the honorable member to withdraw that statement. I never used the word.

Mr HAWKER - It is in Ilansard, volume IIS, page 4,328. The Leader of the Country party has just said that it was a new experience for a Minister representing' any Government to say that it was a good thing for assistance to be reduced so as to check a boom. The present Deputy Leader "of the Country party, when he was Minister for Markets, did not express himself explicitly in those terms, but he gave a vivid account of the ruin facing the doradillo grape-growers as a result of the over-expansion of their industry. He said -

In 1924 a crisis occurred in Australia in the doradillo grape-growing industry. During the war period the production of doradillo grapes had been a highly profitable industry, and many returned soldiers were settled on blocks by the State governments, and encouraged to produce doradillo grapes. In a very short while the production of these grapes became greater than the demand, and as they are practically a distillation variety used almost wholly for the production of spirits, and not particularly suitable for the production of wine other than for spirit purposes, there was a glut of this spirit on tlie market, and the industry was faced with ruin.

I am not criticizing the original bounty of 4s. a gallon paid by the Government nf which the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) was Treasurer, but that Government did right to reduce the bounty when it became evident that the industry was experiencing an unhealthy boom.

I take particular exception to the statement of the honorable member for New England that the alteration of the tobacco duties by this Government amounts to repudiation. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) quoted a published statement of the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham), but omitted a relevant sentence. I have here Mr. Latham's statement as published in a booklet issued by the Colonial Tobacco-growers Proprietary Limited, of Myrtleford. The statement is as follows: -

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