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Friday, 13 August 1926

Senator HOARE (South Australia) . - I sincerely hope that the Minister's expectations regarding the cotton industry will be realized. There is always difficulty in launching infant industries, but, in all probability a bounty in the initial stages will enable the cottongrowers to establish themselves on a commercial basis, so that they will not require permanent assistance from the Government. Eventually, however, our industries must be independent- of bounties. In many instances, a bounty is preferable to a duty. The latter is paid only by the persons who purchase the goods on which the duty is levied, but all the taxpayers contribute- to the funds from which bounties are provided. If the industry proves advantageous to the country, the community receives the benefit, and, in the event of loss, the whole of the people should be prepared to share it. The following table indicates the increase in cotton production in Queensland : -


The present total annual value of the production is about £300,000. Those figures will give some indication of the manner in which the cotton industry has developed in Queensland. The granting of this bounty will probably enable it to become one of the greatest industries in this country. For the two years ended the 30th June, 1924, Australia exported cotton to the value of approximately £500,000. Presumably it was exported at a profit, so that there is some hope for the future of the industry. During the same period Australia imported manufactured cotton goods to the value of £33,000,000. That should not have been. While we may not be able to export manufactured cotton goods and compete in the markets of the world with the goods of countries where cheap coloured labour is employed, we should at least manufacture our own cotton requirements. I hope that in the near future this industry will have so developed that thousands of persons will be employed in it. The cotton crop of the United States of America fluctuates considerably. In 1914, 15,000,000 bales of cotton were produced in that country; in 1921, the crop was only 7,953,641 lb. I do not think that the fluctuations in Australia will be anything like that. While it is said that dry seasons affect the cotton crop, I understand that a dry spell at certain periods of the growth of the plant has very little effect on it. The Government has acted wisely in introducing legislation to provide for bounties, not only to the cottongrowers, but also to the manufacturers of cotton yarn. For the firm of Bond's Limited, which has a large establishment in Sydney, I have a great admiration, because of the manner in which it treats its employees. In that respect, it sets a good example to other employers in this country. The company has discovered what many of us have known for a long time, namely, that better results are obtained from employees when they are treated with consideration. Some time ago, I visited that firm's establishment in Sydney, and saw there numbers of machines which were idle because there was not enough work for them to do. The result of this legislation should be to set those machines in motion, and to provide further employment. The firm manufactures cotton . yarn into towelling and other articles, and I am informed that, as the result of an increased output, the price of towelling has been reduced. I trust that the Australian people will be patriotic enough to purchase Australian-made goods, and thus assist to make Australia a country of which they may justly be proud.

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