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Friday, 2 December 1938

Mr FORDE (Capricornia) .- When this bill was before the House the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) clearly set out the Opposition's attitude with regard to the means proposed by this measure to raise the necessary money. That honorable gentleman moved an amendment strongly opposing the imposition of what has been justly referred to as a bread tax. The House, however, defeated the amendment and agreed to the principle of the bill.

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable gentleman must not discuss the principles of the bill.

Mr FORDE - I am merely laying down the premises, as I must do, in order to set out my attitude towards the amendment. Rightly or wrongly, the House has determined in favour of a certain principle. I say that the principle is wrong, for reasons which I need not repeat. The Premier of Queensland has now pointed out to the Commonwealth Government that as there is no drought in his State this season, Queensland will make no claim upon the amount of £500,000 which is to be set aside this year for the relief of distressed farmers. -Had that £500,000 not been taken out of the total fund, Queensland wheat-growers, like those of other States, would have shared in it on a production basis; but Queensland has agreed to the £500,000 being taken out of the total fund, thus reducing the amount which would be shared by the Queensland wheat-growers. The bill, as it stands, provides that after the first year the £500,000 is to be used for the purpose of transferring wheatfarmers from marginal lauds. As the Premier of Queensland has pointed out, there are no marginal lands in that State, and that it i3 not equitable that that State should be denied the' right of deriving benefit from the fund should adverse seasonal conditions cause distress among its wheat-farmers in subsequent years. If, out of this " loot," as some speakers have called it, a fund is to be created, then distribution from that fund should be equable between the States. This £500,000 should not in future be allocated entirely for the purpose of transferring farmers from marginal lands.

The Queensland Premier is therefore justified in making his request to the Commonwealth Government, and although the Labour party strongly opposes the method of taxation employed in this measure, it strongly urges that provision should be made for a more equable distribution from the fund in the years to come than was provided for in the bill as it left this chamber.

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