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Thursday, 28 May 1942

Mr McDONALD (Corangamite) . - I draw the attention of the- Government to the perilous condition of the flax industry. It has been sponsored by the Commonwealth Government, and considerable sums of money have been expended on its development. Mills have been established in various districts in Victoria at a cost of about £10,000 each. The crop has been purchased from the fanners at a guaranteed price of between £6 and £7, but to-day, although hundreds of acres of flax have been spread out for retting' purposes, there is no labour available to gather it. Flax is an essential commodity at this time, and it should be treated as such. Neither the Government nor the taxpayers can afford to see serious deterioration and, in some instances, complete waste of flax which has been grown under adverse conditions. The industry is, in its infancy in this country, hut, despite many difficulties, good crops were grown last year. In one district last Sunday, 100 volunteers, including bank managers, carpenters. grocers and farmers, assembled and worked for ten hours gathering up the flax that had 'been spread in one paddock. I understand, from communications which I have received, that similar conditions prevail at another centre. This matter requires urgent attention, in the interests not only of producers, but also of the war effort, to which flax is essential.

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