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Friday, 6 December 1935

Senator BADMAN (South Australia; [10.20]) (The Leader of the OppositionSenator Collings) has reminded honorable senators that his party opposes a flour tax because it regards it as a bread tax. I remind him that the provision of a home-consumption price of 4s. 9d. a bushel through a compulsory pool would increase the price of bread more than will a flour tax of £2 12s. 6d. a ton. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) has pointed out that a home-consumption price cannot be provided for by legislation this year, because the States have procrastinated. The State governments must shoulder the blame for the fact that owing to their delay in passing legislation, the farmers of Australia will lose approximately £500,000 which they stood to gain from the fixation of a home-consumption price for their wheat. I know that the South Australian Government has been largely responsible for holding ut» this matter. I am satisfied that had the governments of the various States enacted the required legislation immediately, as their representatives who attended the conference recently held in Canberra promised would be done, a homeconsumption price for wheat could have been applied to the present harvest. Because of their procrastination, for which in some States outside interests have been responsible, the means for fixing a homeconsumption price cannot be secured for another twelve months. Consequently, I repeat, the wheat-farmers of Australia stand to lose £500,000, unless, of course, the Commonwealth Government steps into the breach and makes good that loss. However, we cannot expect it to do so, because it is free from any blame in this connexion. Meanwhile, I remind the Leader of the Opposition that the flour tax would need to be increased from £2 12s. 6d. to £3 10s. a ton to provide the equivalent of a homesumption price of 4s. 9d. a bushel for wheat. The consumers of bread will, therefore, be less severely hit by this scheme than by a' scheme for the provision of a home-consumption price of 4s. 9d. through the establishment of a compulsory pool.

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