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Thursday, 21 May 1942

Mr SCULLY - I have not yet had time to read this morning's Sydney Morning Herald, and therefore I have not seen the statement referred to by the honorable gentleman. I assure him, however, that the interpretation he has quoted of the agreement made by a previous government, is not in accordance with the fact3. Some officers of my department were present at a meeting between the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) when Minister for Commerce, and representatives of wheat-growing organizations in Australia, at which it was agreed that the guaranteed price should be in respect of a crop of 140,000,000 bushels, and that, if the yield exceeded that quantity, the estimated amount of the guarantee, approximately ?27,000,000, would be spread over the total crop from registered areas. Actually 153,000,000 bushels has been received into the pool. From areas not registered or in excess of the registered acreage the yield was 1,500,000 bushels, which, compared with the total crop, is an almost insignificant quantity. The arrangement made by my predecessor was a definite agreement; this Government takes no responsibility for the terms of the agreement, but on assuming office I gave an undertaking to different organizations and to the country that the agreement would be honoured and not interfered with.

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