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Friday, 19 March 1926

Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) .- The purport of this bill is to grant an extension of time for the repayment of advances made and in some cases to release growers from the responsibility of repaying advances under the Dried Fruits Advances Act of 1924. I understand that the principal act provides for the repayment of the advances made on the 1925 crop, plus interest at the rate of 6 per cent. The only feature of the bill to which I object is the appointment of a board to carry out the work entailed, which I think could be performed by departmental officers. Will the proposed board cost very much ?

Senator Wilson - I do not think the cost will exceed £300. A good deal of the work will be done by officers of the department.

Senator NEEDHAM - Could not all the work be done by Government officials ? I understand that a number of returned soldiers will benefit if this measure is passed. The Minister stated that 4,500 people participated in the advance, and. received £204,000. He also quoted figures to show that the prices received for lexias and currants in 1925 did not pay the growers, the decline in values being£65s. per ton in the case of lexias and £9 3s. per ton for currants. I realize what a handicap this means to the people engaged in the industry. They deserve assistance. I intend to support the bill, particularly since the Minister has assured us that the cost of inquiry will not be heavy.

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