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Wednesday, 30 November 1938

Mr CURTIN (FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - The lower the export price of wheat, the higher will be the tax on flour, in order to maintain the homeconsumption price.

Sir Earle Page - The price of flour will be fixed by the State tribunals, but the rate of tax will be fixed by the Wheat Stabilization Advisory Committee.

Mr CURTIN - But the rate of tax is not fixed in this measure. The point that I am stressing is that the rate of tax is not fixed. It will vary. The rate of tax, when all is said and done, will ultimately be related to the price of bread. The immediate effect of the result of the tax will be an increase of the price of 'bread. Once it has been increased, the State tribunals will determine whether or not the price to which it has been increased represents an unfair price and advise the State governments accordingly. It is obvious that the millers will not keep flour at itspresent price after the tax has been imposed.

Mr Anthony - The price of bread would be fixed.

Mr CURTIN - The honorable gentleman knows that as things stand at present the wheat-growers will not get £4,000,000 unless this legislation passes. When it passes there is to be an excise tax which is to yield £4,000,000.

Mr Nock - Not necessarily.

Mr CURTIN - On the present hypothesis of the Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page), if prices remain as they are, the figure will be between £3,500,000 and £4,000,000.

Mr Anthony - But that excise is fixed on a maximum price of £13 a ton for flour.

Mr CURTIN - I know that. The present price of flour is £8 a ton. It is obvious that the price will be increased to the baker by £5 a ton when the tax on flour is increased by £5 a ton. Is it not a certainty then that the baker will say that he was selling at the present price when he was buying flour at £8 a ton and that he must increase the price to pay for flour at £13 a ton?

Sir Henry Gullett - Hear, hear!

Mr CURTIN - Any honorable member who says that this legislation does not involve as its first necessity an increase of the price of bread is humbugging himself.

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