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Thursday, 8 March 1928

Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) . - I listened with interest to Senator Greene who, I know, has had considerable experience in the industry. Nevertheless instead of convincing me, the honorable senator has merely confirmed me in the view that the duties will operate to the disadvantage of dairy farmers and the consumers. I have had a conversation with a gentleman who has had as much experience in the industry as has Senator Greene, and whose views are entitled to every respect. His opinion is entirely at variance with that of my honorable friend. Senator Greene has confirmed me in the view that under this item the consumer will have to pay more for his butter. The Minister has admitted that the Paterson scheme will continue to operate alongside the increased duties.

Senator Thompson - I thought the honorable senator was a protectionist.

Senator NEEDHAM - So I am. Senator Greene asked me just now if I wished to see the dairy farmers of Australia working for less than a living wage, and I assured him that I did not.

Mr GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - They will be working for less than a living wage unless they get more money for their products.

Senator NEEDHAM - I take the view that every person, whether he be an employer or an employee, is entitled to the full reward of his labour. If the lot of the dairy farmer is as bad as has been painted by Senator Greene, a bounty of 1d. or l½d. per lb. would be of more assistance to them than the proposed duties which Ave are now asked to impose.

Senator McLachlan - Who pays the bounty ?

Senator NEEDHAM - The public of Australia, of course. Already we are assisting many other industries by means of the bounty system. If the position of the dairying industry is as bad as has been stated during this debate, it is the duty of the Government to come to the rescue of the dairy farmers.

Senator Duncan - Is the honorable senator aware that a bounty of 2d. per lb. on our butter production would amount to £2,500,000 a year?

Senator NEEDHAM - Other industries are being assisted by the bounty system, and I see no reason why the same benefits should not be extended to the dairying industry. There is another factor which may have assisted to bring about the present condition of the dairying industry. I refer to the high prices which dairy farmers in Victoria have had to pay for their land. I still hold the view that if this duty is imposed, the speculator, and not the dairy farmer, will benefit, and the consumers will have to pay an exorbitant price for their butter.

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