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Thursday, 24 September 1942
Page: 935

Mr ANTHONY (Richmond) . - Last night, I directed attention to certain aspects of our food problem, particularly in respect of our obligations to export foodstuffs to the United Kingdom. I had intended to rest upon what I then said, but I have been informed that at a time when I was absent from the eh amber, subsequently, the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully) attacked my statements. He asserted that the figures I quoted were incorrect, and that I had completely misstated the position. I endeavoured to secure whatever figures the Minister could supply. In the last fortnight 1 have been directing questions to him in which I asked to be told the production targets for the coming year. I have, personally, asked the Minister for this information outside this chamber. I have visited his office on several occasions, and interviewed his secretary; but I. did not succeed in obtaining the information I desired. I do not suggest that the Minister evaded giving me that information, because he has always been most courteous in these matters. However, the fact remains that I could not obtain from him the information I desired. Consequently, I was compelled to seek it from other official sources. I shall repeat the figures I cited last night, and I ask the Minister to say which of them is inaccurate. I said that the value of exports of butter, cheese, meat, pork and eggs to the United Kingdom during the previous two years ranged from £30,000,000 to £40,000,000 per annum. Is that incorrect? If the Minister says that it is, I refer him to the monthly bulletin issued by the Bureau of Census and Statistics. I also said that our average exports of butter to the United Kingdom for the previous two years was approximately 93,000 tons per annum.

Mr Scully - I did not say that any figures dealing with previous exports cited by the honorable member were incorrect, but that his statements generally were inaccurate. He alleged that the Govern ment was not seriously concerned with the export of foodstuffs to the United Kingdom.

Mr ANTHONY - I shall produce authority for each of the figures I cited. My authority for those dealing with exports of dairy products is a publication, dated the 14th September, which is issued by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics. They are the very latest figures procurable by a private member. My statistics of quantities of exports, and contracts prices, were substantially obtained from this and another bulletin issued by the bureau. 1 proved that while we had cut clown our exports to the United Kingdom--

Mr Scully - We did not cut down our exports; the United Kingdom Government cut them down.

Mr ANTHONY - I shall reply to that statement. The Minister said that shipping was the problem.

Mr Scully - Yes.

Mr ANTHONY - But it has not been a problem with the New Zealand Government. New Zealand has got its butter, pork and cheese away; and we have been able to send to the United Kingdom products which the British Government did not really need, or could have obtained elsewhere. In July of last year, we sent 15,000 bushels of wheat to the United Kingdom, but in July this year, when the United Kingdom, wanted butter and dairy products, we sent 2,500,000 bushels of wheat to that country. Thus, we were able to send goods to Great Britain, although it is stated that adequate shipping facilities were not available to send the goods which that country wanted. We must play our part with our allies in this war. After I had proved that shipping was not lacking, the Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Beasley) replied that the Government intended first to look after the interests of the people of Australia.

Mr Clark - He did not make that statement at all. It is a gross misrepresentation.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr, Prowse).Order !

Mr ANTHONY - The Minister's statement is recorded in" Hansard. He did not deny it.

Tho honorable member for Darling again in terjecting.

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