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Tuesday, 29 November 1938

Mr HARRISON (Wentworth) (Assistant Minister) . - I remind the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde), who has moved an amendment, as he said, in protest against the reduction of the grant for research in the tobacco industry, that the Government has honoured its agreement to provide five annual grants of £20,000 for tobacco research. The result has been a marked improvement of the industry. The grant was made with the intention of establishing the industry, previously more or less haphazard, on a permanent and scientific basis. The Government could rightly have refused to maintain this grant because last year the final instalment was paid. Realizing, however, the value of the research work, the Government has made available this year £15,000, and it proposes to continue the grant on a gradually diminishing scale up to 1943. Next year, the grant will be £13,750; in 1940-41, it will be £12,500; in 1941-42. £11,250; and in 1942-43, £10,000. The honorable member must realize that, if the tobacco industry is to be of any value to Australia, it must ultimately stand on its own feet. It cannot continue tohave grants for research when, obviously, the back of that work has been broken. Honorable members who have watched the development of this industry will agree that it has made remarkable progress. The crop of 7,000,000 lb. of good quality tobacco leaf this year will supply onethird of Australia's requirements.

Mr Forde - That is a little more than half of what was produced six years ago.

Mr HARRISON - The honorable member knows that the leaf which was produced six years ago was not of such good quality as the leaf which is produced now. When I visited the tobacco areas of Queensland some years ago, I gained a knowledge of the quality of the leaf which was then being produced. The average quality of the leaf was not nearly so good as that of the leaf which is produced to-day. As the result of the re-' search and the instructions that have been given to the tobacco-growers, a marked improvement has taken place ; the tobacco industry is now on a good footing and it is making gradual progress. The stage will be reached when no more assistance of this sort will be needed. I feel that the committee will readily acknowledge that the Government has done a good job of work, and that the honorable member's declaration that there should be an increase, instead of a decrease, of the amount of money made available for research is not based on sound premises.

The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) complained that the expenditure on the visit to Great Britain of the Director-General of Postal Services and the Chief Inspector of Telegraphs exceeded the vote. If the honorable gentleman will study the Estimates more closely he will see that the item to which he took exception related to the previous financial year; there is no vote for this year.

The honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) referred to the San Francisco Exhibition, and the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Jennings) to the Australian National Travel Association. I shall direct their remarks to the attention of the Ministers concerned.

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