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Tuesday, 9 April 1957

Mr MCMAHON -! think it is well known to this House that, unfortunately, the influence of potatoes and onions on recent changes in the C series index and, therefore, in some States, on the basic wage, was greater than its importance warranted. As a result, the Commonwealth Statistician decided to publish two separate indices, one taking potatoes and onions into consideration and one leaving them out. It was hoped that, by this means, the facts would become known and people would learn what the impact of potatoes and onions on the C series index was. As to the future, a thorough review of the problem of the supply of potatoes has, within the course of the last few months, been carried out by the Department of Primary Industry. I think it shows that there may be a slight shortage later this year. Action is being taken, therefore, to see whether that shortage can be avoided. Should the honorable gentleman want to see that report 1 shall be only too happy to make it available for him. As to the subsidization of eggs, I can tell the honorable gentleman that this question of subsidies has received frequent consideration by the Government in the past; and it has been thought not to be a wise method of stabilizing costs as it does not touch causes, and, therefore, has not been accepted as a matter of principle. I shall see that the matter that the honorable gentleman has raised is discussed with my colleague, and I will make certain that that discussion takes place shortly.

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