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Wednesday, 4 May 1921

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon T Givens - If the honorable senator desires to move an amendment to the motion, he must do so before he resumes his seat, otherwise he will lose his opportunity.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Thank you, Mr. President, I shall do so.

Senator Earle - Can the honorable senator explain how the agreement may be enforced? If those who, are standing out want to sell 100 bales at 5d., what is to prevent them selling at 9d., and getting a rebate of £500?

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - The man who buys the wool will not be allowed to sell it except under the conditions imposed. [Extensionof time granted.]

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Something must be done. I should like to see one year's' trial given to the scheme, but I would compromise on that, altho.'gh I do not think it is possible to do a great deal of good in six months. Still, I am hoping that it will be carried on. Honorable senators may call this scheme what they like. They may call it Protection, if they prefer that word, because in this country we have Protection for everybody except the primary producers.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does not Protection protect them?

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - No. The primary producer pays through the nose for everything he uses, whereas, until recently, at all events, he had to take world's parity for everything he had to sell. During the war, as honorable senators are aware, Australian wheat producers sold their wheat at about one-half of the world's parity. As 9d. per lb. gross in Australia is equivalent to an average price of 8d. on the farm, I move -

That the statement be amended by providing that the average gross price in Australia be 9d. per lb., instead of 8d. per lb.

Senator FAIRBAIRN(Victoria) f4.37]. - I second the amendment. It is not my intention to weary the Senate at great length, because this important question has already been ably discussed by Senator Guthrie and others. I desire, however, to state a few facts which I consider the honorable senator has overlooked, and to explain a few matters which I do not think honorable senators thoroughly understand. There is only one phase of the question on which I entirely disagree with Senator Guthrie, and that is in connexion with the manner in which the banks have been blamed for selling wool in London. We should be fair even to the banks, and I am sure that Senator Guthrie is also anxious to be just to our large financial institutions. We have to put ourselves in the position of the banking institutions and consider what we would do under similar circumstances. The banks do not own the wool because the producers place it in their hands and ask them to sell it on their behalf. This position has developed very suddenly, and the banks have acted as they have always done by shipping the wool to London. At the time there was no thought of any restrictions being placed on the sale of the wool, and the growers' product was landed in London. The real owner of the wool is the1 consignor. If the banks did what was required and withdrew it from sale, the owners could take action for damages against the banks. It was impossible for the banks to fall in with the suggestion with the concurrence of the consignor. The banks have an approved system,- and it is generally believed that they are anxious to help this scheme as much as possible. The institutions would be willing to give the names of the consignors, who could instruct their banks to hold their wool if necessary. The onus would be on the grower to instruct the banks, and I am sure we all desire to see the responsibility rest in the proper place. Senator Guthrie said there are 80,000 wool growers iri Australia, but I have always been under the impression that there were 145,000 wool producers. If there are only 80,000, as the honorable senator suggests, that is a very important section of our community, and one which employs a large number of people. From that point of view alone it must be obvious to every one that it is our duty to protect such a great industry which, owing to the present turmoil, is likely to be ruined.

Senator de Largie - The number must have increased in recent years, because many farmers are now growing wool.

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