Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Friday, 27 March 1942

Mr MARTENS (Herbert) .- Recently the Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Beasley) . made a statement to the press that the price of sugar might be increased owing to the likelihood of sugar having to be transported from North Queensland to the southern States by rail. I suggest to the honorable gentleman that it will be most difficult to transport sugar south by rail. My information is to the effect that in the area of Townsville, and further north, about 100,000 tons of raw sugar are held. Assuming that each train could bring 350 tons of sugar south, it would make an enormous demand upon our railway system to transport the sugar. Furthermore, the cost of train haulage would be excessive. The making of statements such as that to which I have referred, undoubtedly causes people to hoard commodities. Immediately that statement was made, customers rushed to grocers' shops in order to buy sugar, obviously for the purpose of hoarding. People adopt this course, first, in order to be sure that they will have sugar ; and, secondly, in order to avoid having to pay a higher price for it. A statement appeared in the press subsequently, though I cannot say who was responsible for it, to the effect that sugar was likely to be rationed. I find it difficult to understand the reasons for that statement. According to information obtained from the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited, more sugar has been made available in the last two or three months than in any similar period. That surely shows that large quantities of sugar are procurable. That statement also caused difficulties. I was pleased to hear the

Minister say to-day in reply to a question that. I asked him that it was not necessary for customers to buy other goods from grocers in order to obtain 1 lb. of sugar or a small quantity of tea. Nevertheless, that kind of thing is being done. Grocers are saying to their customers that only 1 lb. of sugar may be supplied to each purchaser because so little sugar is -.available. In my view, it is entirely wrong for members of the Government to make statements of the kind to which I have referred, for it at once causes people to hoard supplies. If the need arises for limiting supplies of particular commodities, statements to that effect should be followed immediately by regulations imposing the restrictions. When the statement was made a few days ago that supplies of beer were to be curtailed, regulations were immediately issued and new trading hours were fixed to operate from the next day. That procedure should be followed whenever the need arises to curtail supplies. It is not sufficient to tell people that they will be prosecuted for hoarding. I am informed that large quantities of sugar are available in north Queensland, although I am aware of the transport difficulties. I protest, however, against premature statements being made to the effect that the price of sugar may be increased and the rationing of supplies may be imposed.

Suggest corrections