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Thursday, 4 August 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) .- Senator Prattensuggested the possibility of A'ustralia being invaded by the cheap wheat of America. The Senate will agree that he would be a very poor American wheat operator who would send grain all the way to Australia for 9s. a bushel, when, by simply sending it across the Atlantic, he could get a very much higher return in Europe. At the time to which Senator Pratten referred, London parity was from 75s. to 80s. per quarter.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - They were not selling wheat; they were only selling " futures."

Senator LYNCH - The situation which Senator Pratten stressed was only a flash in the pan.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Australian buyers could have operated in America.

Senator LYNCH - Yes, but it is clear that the American operator would not send his wheat to Australia when he could get a higher price in the London market. What the honorable senator referred to was only a passing condition in the wheat market of America.

Senator Russell - I have known the British Government, during the war, to borrow 500,000 tons of wheat from the Argentine which we repaid by a shipment of Australian wheat.

Senator LYNCH - That was a war condition. The Minister has said that I made more applications for the payment of wheat instalments than, in his opinion, I should have done.

Senator Russell - Tha honorable senator was particularly prominent in asking for guarantees'.

Senator LYNCH - I was simply performing a public duty in asking for instalments that were a long time overdue.

Senator Russell - Never !

Senator LYNCH - Yes, and they are . overdue now.

Senator Russell - There was never a time when the Pool had not an overdraft through over-paying the farmers; that is the position to-day.

Senator LYNCH - Wheat that was delivered in 1915-16 has not been completely paid for yet, and I think I am entitled to say that those instalments are well overdue. I am one of those to whom this money is due, and I presume that Senator -Guthrie is another. Will the Minister say that sugar, or wool, or any other product, save wheat, that was delivered six years ago has not been paid for yet? When, in pursuance of my public duty, I asked for the payment of overdue instalments, it was not for the purpose of paying a .wage of £9 per week, which Senator Crawford says he paid in his industry, but to pay a wage of something like £3 a week, to keep the home fires burning in the wheat belts, and to extend the area under crop.

Senator RUSSELL -The honorable senator's object was laudable at the time.

Senator LYNCH - Then the Minister should not have found fault with it. He spoke, also, of the Government having come to the rescue of the farmers by financing them during the war. My reply is that full interest was paid by the farmers on all the money which the Government advanced. Neither party is under any obligation; certainly the farmers are not.

Senator Russell - -For three out of five years we took the risk of the guarantee.

Senator LYNCH - The wheat was delivered, and wheat is as good as gold at any time, but especially during the war. In regard to the guarantee, the motion I introduced to the Senate asked that the Government should guarantee a fixed minimum of 5s. per bushel for five years, and if London parity should be above or below that price, the Treasury should be credited or debited to the extent of the difference in each year; 5s. was to be the standard price, but in no circumstances was the Treasury to lose by the transaction. The Government were merely to act as guarantors in order to put the wheat industry in a stable position. I shall not withdraw my request. The farmers do not seek a gratuitous gift such as this duty is. This is merely an attempt to put a fifth wheel on a coach. The proposed duty can be neither useful nor ornamental, and the farmers. do not want it.

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