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Thursday, 30 April 1936

Senator ABBOTT (New South Wales) . - I assure the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) that the members of the Country party in this chamber do not intend to support the Opposition by " pulling the legs " of the unfortunate primary producers. We know the consequences of the high duties imposed by the Scullin Government not only on tobacco, but also on other primary products. We remember what occurred in connexion . with the production of wheat. Even suburban grocers in Sydney received letters urging them to engage in wheat production, and in consequence of the agitation many persons for whom there were no prospects of making a living responded to the call. In Victoria the speculation in tobacco lands became so rife that land which was worth only 30s. an acre was sold for up to £30 an acre. I asked Senator Brown when he was speaking how much of the 10,000,000 lb. of tobacco produced had actually been sold, but he declined to say.

Senator Sir George Pearce - Some of it has not yet been sold.

Senator ABBOTT - A neighbour of mine who had 8,000 to 10,000 lb. of tobacco could not get anything like the price which it was said could be obtained, and I believe that he still has some on hand. Similar difficulty has occurred in connexion with other forms of primary production. The Leader of the Opposition has twitted the members of the Country party with inconsistency because under an honorable alliance with the United Australia party, the members of both parties have agreed upon a common policy for Australia, which, as Senator Hardy has said, we regard as the best in the circumstances. It is true that, prior to that alliance, Senator Hardy made some good fighting speeches in this chamber, and I have been told that certain lobbyists who infest this building have a whole list of the remarks made on former occasions by members of the Country party in connexion with certain tariff items. These extracts will, no doubt, be trotted out later on. I have not been ungenerous to the Leader of the Opposition, who once informed me that "those persons who live in glass houses should not throw stones ". I could have reminded him that on previous occasions he has vehemently repudiated any suggestion that the members of his party were associated with another political party in New South Wales, led by a man whom he repudiated as the leader of the Labour party, but with whom his party is now allied. I refer to the man who was responsible for the State Savings Bank of New South Wales closing its doors, compelling many poor widows to sell their pass-books for whatever amount they could receive. I trust that this will be the last we shall hear of the alleged inconsistency of the members of the Country party.

Senator J.V. MacDONALD (Queensland) [9.38 j . - When the South African Government desired to establish the tobacco-growing industry in that country, it imposed an embargo on importations of tobacco-leaf, and the Scullin Government could have acted similarly if it had so desired ; but it did not wish to take such drastic action. Restrictions that arc practically embargoes are imposed on the importation of New Zealand butter and potatoes, and this has led to the New Zealand Government imposing embargoes on the importation of Queensland and New South Wales oranges. The absurd position thus arose that a bounty had to be given to assist orange-growers to find a market in Britain.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Sampson - The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the item.

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - I remind honorable senators that our unfavorable trade balance with the United States of America could be improved considerably if importations of tobacco leaf from that country were reduced. Senator Hardy and the other members of the so-called Country party in this chamber should endeavour to formulate an effective system of protecting every section of primary producers. If it is logical to afford financial relief to wheat-growers, why should not we assist the tobacco-growers? The duty now imposed on imported tobacco is inadequateThis is a sop which does not provide adequate protection for the industry. If Senator Hardy will move for a higher duty members of the Opposition will certainly support him.

Item agreed to.

Division 3 - Sugar

Item 27-

By omitting the whole item and inserting in its stead the following item: - "27. Glucose, per cwt., British, 10s.; intermediate, 17s. 6d.; general, 20s. And for each fi by which the equivalent in Australian currency of £100 sterling is less than £125 at the date of exportation, an additional duty of, per cwt., British, 2.4d. : intermediate, 2.4d.; general, 2.4d."

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