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Wednesday, 24 September 1941

Senator COOPER (Queensland) . - I welcome the bill, and I am glad to note that it has the support of the Opposition. Undoubtedly the cotton industry has for many years experienced fluctuating fortunes. It seems incredible that we produce only 12,000 bales of cotton a year when our secondary industries require 80,000 bales annually. The industry has failed to expand because prices have not been payable and growers have preferred to produce other primary products for which more favorable markets were available. We can encourage the industry only by stabilizing the price of cotton. The lod. per lb. for raw cotton for which this bill provides during the period of the war and twelve months thereafter is a minimum price, but the maximum price may be much higher, according to the ruling price of raw cotton imported from America. The industry is thus assured of a remunerative return for its product for the period just mentioned. Australia as a whole will benefit from any encouragement of the industry, which will bc of immediate advantage to our war effort, as well as of great benefit to primary production in Queensland. Cotton-growing is not an industry which is easy to develop successfully. Many diseases attack the plants, and considerable difficulty is experienced in gathering the crop. Cotton-growing is also a family industry. Consequently, its encouragement will help to increase our rural population. I hope that the production of cotton will soon become so well established, that we shall not need to import raw cotton, but shall be able to produce the whole of the requirements of our secondary industries. Such a development will be of great benefit to our internal economy, and will help us to deal effectively with our post-war problems. I congratulate the Government upon introducing this measure, and hope that it will have a speedy passage.

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