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Friday, 13 August 1926

Senator GRAHAM (Western Australia) . - I am in favour of the Government's proposals. The Minister's introductory remarks convince me that cotton can be profitably grown in various portions of the Commonwealth. The right honorable gentleman pointed out that it is being grown in the Northern Territory, and can be produced there in large quantities.

Senator Ogden - They want coloured labour there.

Senator GRAHAM - That is not so. Cotton, with a long staple, is being grown in Western Australia, but not to any extent. I am not sufficiently expert to state whether the length of the staple is affected by climatic conditions or the soil. I recently visited the factory of Bond and Company, in Sydney, and was shown by the manager what was being done with cotton. I believe him to be an expert in that line of business. He informed me that the Queensland cotton is equal, if not superior, to that obtained from any other part of the world. Eighty per cent. of the cotton that is used in his establishment is grown in Australia. That firm has invested a great deal of money in the establishment of mills to deal with this product, and it is prepared to have other mills erected in the different States. We should, therefore, give it every encouragement. I have a little knowledge of the textile industry, and I am satisfied that in the future cotton will be mixed with Australian wool for both ladies' and gentlemen's wearing apparel, and to a very large extent that product will replace artificial silk. We should, therefore, endeavour to encourage those who are prepared to engage in the industry. The cotton goods that are turned out in Australia are in colour, pattern, weight, and every other respect superior to any that are imported. The Government is acting rightly in granting a bounty to encourage the industry to increase its output, but I am sorry that it not to be given over a more extended period. In a few years we shall probably be able to produce all that we require in that direction, and it will not be necessary to procure any of our supplies from abroad. If the growth of cotton can be undertaken simultaneously with other farming operations, it should prove highly profitable. One honorable senator said that the cotton plant is not immune from the effects of drought; but, on the other hand, the Minister said that it was a drought-resisting plant.

Senator Hoare - It is not.

Senator Thompson - The Minister is quite right. Once the plant is properly started, it is really drought resisting, but it requires a rainfall at the time that it is planted.

Senator GRAHAM - It is claimed to be a godsend in dry and arid parts. If that is so, we should cultivate it in various portions of Australia. The bill has my whole-hearted support. Anything that can be produced in Australia at a fair price will be given every encouragement by me.

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