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Friday, 2 December 1938

Sir HENRY GULLETT (Henty) . - I am opposed to the amendment. I have already expressed the opinion that it is monstrous that the consumersof bread should be burdened with a special and excessive tax in order to raise the world parity price of wheat to a level deemed by the Government to be payable. That is bad in itself, but I think it is a still greater iniquity that £500,000 of the money so raised should be distributed among farmers whose crops have absolutely failed, and who have no wheat on which to base a claim. Now, this further extension of the principle makes the position still worse. Bread consumers are to be taxed to compensate farmers for crops that have been destroyed by bushfires, or by rust or smut or rabbits, or by any agency whatsoever. This had nothing to do with the original intention of the bill, which was to provide for a subsidy on wheat produced. If this amendment is agreed to, the Commonwealth Minister may, upon the advice of a State Minister, make a grant to a wheat-grower who is merely in distress, and they can charge it up to the poorer sections of the community, who must pay. I think that the Government has lost its senses over this measure. It is totally lacking in any sort of sympathy with the more humble people. It is blind to social justice of any kind, and to bring this amendment forward now is to rub salt into the wounds already inflicted.

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