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Thursday, 10 September 1942

Mr MARTENS (Herbert) .- I believe that the Government will succeed in raising the money for which provision is made in this budget.

The people in my constituency produce three-fifths of the sugar grown in the Commonwealth, and at present they are having a very lean time. Sugar, to-day, is more important than at any other time in the history of Australia. The American people have lost one of their greatest sugar producing areas, and Java is no longer available to the Allied Nations as a source of supply. Sugar has been rationed for various reasons, one of which is associated with difficulties of transport. Various overseas countries want sugar from Australia. Many men are required to harvest this year's sugar crop, to say nothing of planting the cane for next year's crop. Other primary industries also need labour. The Government is exhorting the people to grow more vegetables and cotton and tobacco, but there are not enough men available 'to do the work. Though it may be necessary, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) has said, to use every available man for the defence of the country, those men will not be of much use unless they are fed, and they cannot be fed unless sufficient labour is available to produce foodstuffs. I shall read to the House a summary of the man-power position in North Queensland. The information was supplied to me from various areas in my electorate. It is as follows : -

South Johnstone Co-operative Sugar Milling Association Limited.

Full supply of labour to carry on with three shifts in mill. Only shortage being cane-cutters. Owing to lack of cane-cutters crushing is at a very reduced capacity, which means increased costs, in turn reflecting on growers. Only difficulty with regards to mill labour will be for rush loading of sugar when interstate boat calls at Mourilyan Harbour. In the past have been able to call on casual labour.

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