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Wednesday, 9 March 1932

Mr GULLETT - The honorable member having been good enough to advise me of his intention to ask this question, I am able to furnish the following reply : -

No complaints from merchants regarding shortages of sugar at Hobart have reached my department for some years. Early this year, however, a complaint as to shortages was made by the Secretary of the Retail Grocers Association of Tasmania, but departmental inquiries in Hobart showed that unsold stocks in merchants' stores have not been less than 66 tons for any week since the 5th September last, the average weekly surplus being over 100 tons. The Government, therefore, does not intend to establish a sugar depot in Hobart, or to request the Queensland Government to do so.

The present arrangements at Hobart were instituted on the 14th September, 1931. They provide for the wholesale merchants holding at all times, and at the expense of the Queensland Sugar Board, double the surplus stocks which were previously held, and which for at least two and a half years had been sufficient to avoid any shortage.

There is no regular supervision by the Commonwealth Government, but all complaints are promptly investigated.

The Sugar Agreement deals only with cash sales by the Queensland Government, or its agent, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited. The prices in both Hobart and Launceston are - to wholesalers, £37 6s.8d. a ton, less 2 per cent. discount for cash; to retail grocers and housewives, £37 6s.8d. a ton for net cash. Until the 14th September, 1931, delivery was given in each city, ex ship's slings. Since that date free delivery has been given within the Hobart city area, as Hobart is the capital city. These cash prices are exactly the same as in mainland capital cities, where free delivery in the city areas has always been given.

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