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Friday, 13 August 1926

Senator H HAYS (Tasmania) . - In supporting this bill we are merely following what has become an established practice in relation to industry in the Commonwealth. Few, if any, of the products of our industries, particularly secondary industries, can be profitably exported. The irresistible conclusion is that these industries cannot be carried on without some form of government assistance. We should take stock of many of our industries to ascertain the state into which they are getting. Cotton growing is largely a speculative industry, because it has not yet been definitely proved that it can be carried on at a profit. Senator Thompson complained that the bounty which the Government proposes to give is not equal to that which was recommended by the Tariff Board. He said that he refrained from attempting to have it increased because the session was so near its close that such action might result in the laying aside of the bill. But he expressed the hope that twelve months hence the Government would see its way clear to increase the bounty now offered. Care should be taken that we do not encourage the growers to produce cotton to such an extent that it will be impossible for them to find a profitable market in Australia, or they may find themselves in a position similar to that of the sugar growers.

SenatorCrawford- And the apple growers.

Senator H HAYS - I shall refer to them in a moment. I favour encouraging the production of sugar in Australia in sufficient quantities to satisfy the needs of the country, but sugar is exported from Australia in large quantities, at prices which show a loss on the cost of production. Although I favour assistance to infant industries by means of bounties, there should be a reasonable prospect of commercial production eventually, and ability to compete in the world's markets in the event of surplus production.

SenatorCrawford. - It is difficult to produce the exact quantity required for local consumption. Sometimes there are prolific crops, and there are also lean years.

Senator H HAYS - Instead of the bounties being reduced, they are invariably increased. An honorable senator from Queensland has already expressed the hope that the bounty of l½d. per lb. on cotton will be increased to 2d. per lb. I am obliged to the' Minister (Senator Crawford) for reminding me of the needs of the apple industry. Although it has experienced profitable years in the past, the return received by the growers this year was frorn 20 to 25 per cent. belowthe production cost, which is approximately 12s. a bushel. The average price received for 2,000,000 cases was between 8s 6d. and 9s. All that the growers ask is that the difference between the price realized and the cost of production should be made up to them for one year. I was assured, in reply to a question that I asked On this subject, ''that the request of the growers would be considered; but, although the representations were made by the fruitgrowers throughout the Commonwealth, the Government has not indicated its intentions in the matter. I support the bill, because it is consistent - with the policy of the Government regarding other industries. I hope that, during the recess, Ministers will give favorable consideration to the claims of other industries. I am convinced that we have not heard the last of the bounty on cotton.

Judging by the experience of the past, we shall be asked again at a later date to consider the claims of this industry.

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