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Wednesday, 10 April 1946

Mr GUY (Wilmot) .- Sugar refineries have been established in all States except Tasmania, which is under a distinct disadvantage in being without one. Clause 11 of the proposed agreement is as follows : -

That the Queensland Government, if and when requested by the Commonwealth Government shall establish a sugar depot at Hobart, provided that the Commonwealth Government shall not make such a request unless the request be accompanied by evidence proving that a general shortage of sugar has occurred in Hobart which is due to ' wholesale merchants in Hobart or the Queensland Sugar Board failing to adhere to the present arrangements whereby special reserve stocks of sugar are supplied to and held by such merchants.

That provision has been in operation in previous agreements for a number of years1, and it is now to be renewed.

I am concerned with the shortage of sugar for housewives, who recently, in Tasmania, could not obtain sugar for making jam, with the result that thousands of pounds of small fruits was lost. At the time, the authorities said that there was a shortage of sugar, but it was also generally known that the processors were getting large quantities of sugar from the mainland. The housewives were able to get only raw sugar, which was useless for jam-making, because jam made with it will not keep. The agreement provides that large quantities of sugar must he kept in depots in Hobart. I have been told that the sugar was, in fact, in the depot in Hobart. If so, why were housewives denied sugar for jam-making, with the result that there is to-day a shortage of preserves on their shelves? In the absence of a refinery in Tasmania, there will always be periodical shortages of sugar in that State. I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs whether he will inquire as to the quantity of sugar in the depot in Hobart at the time housewives were unable to get any. If there was enough sugar in the depot, why were they prevented from getting it? If there was a genuine shortage of sugar, why were the processors allowed to import sugar, if it was imported, and if there was a general shortage, will the Minister approach the Government of Queensland with a view to having a refinery established in Tasmania as in the other States?

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