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Thursday, 18 October 1956


Mr POLLARD (Lalor) .- This bill is designed to repeal the Wool Products Bounty Act 1950. In the 1950-51 season the price of wool soared to unprecedented heights. Merino wool was bringing £1 per lb. Australian manufacturers were so seriously affected that even this Government became concerned at the effect that the high price of wool would have upon woollen goods purchased by Australian consumers. It therefore introduced a bill into this Parliament to provide for the payment of a bounty on wool products produced after November, 1950, but not later than June, 1951. During that period an amount of £16,000,000 was paid to Australian manufacturers by way of bounty. The legislation contained provisions to ensure that the manufacturers themselves did not scoop up this £16,000,000, and that, as far as could be ensured by administrative action, the Australian consuming public reaped the benefit. In the following season the price of wool, unfortunately from the point of view of Australia's economy, fell to a lower level than that of the previous year, and this Government was not, apparently, willing to continue to pay the bounty. Since then the legislation has been allowed to remain on the statute-book, and it may well be said to be superfluous. For that reason the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) has introduced this measure, and the Opposition will not oppose it.

In view of the fact that the prices to consumers of all goods in this country have increased so much since 1950, one may well consider that the Government should introduce legislation along the lines of the Wool Products Bounty Act, but wider in scope, so as to provide bounties not only on wool but also on all other consumer goods required by the people of Australia. The Government should consider this suggestion, as a means of improving our unfortunate balance of payments position, and of slowing down the continuous chase of wages after prices. Such a measure would constitute at least one step towards reducing the level of the cost structure in Australia, and enabling us to compete with other exporting countries in the markets of the world. I shall say no more about this matter. I merely wished to direct attention to that feature of this type of subsidization and bounty payment. The Opposition supports the measure.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.

Bill - by leave - read a third time.







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