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Wednesday, 24 September 1941

Senator LECKIE (Victoria) (Minister for Aircraft Production) . - in reply - I sympathize with Senators Brown and Courtice in their conflicting reactions to this measure. They are anxious to have a tilt at the Government for its alleged sins, and they are also glad of the assistance being given to the cotton industry. I remember the enthusiasm with which Senator Courtice greeted the previous legislation which provided for a guaranteed price of 1s.0½d. per lb. to the grower. Although the guarantee has now been increased to 1s. 3d. per lb., the praise which the honorable senator formerly gave seems to have vanished into thin air. Senator Brown, apparently, forgets that, despite the omissions of the present and past governments, 3,500 farmers in Australia are growing cotton to-day on 50,000 acres. Senator Brown even went so far as to point out how inefficient are the cottongrowing methods adopted in Queensland to-day. According to his argument, land in that State is not fit for cotton production because the output to the acre is lower than in any other part of the world. The Government, on the other hand, believes that cotton-growing will become successful in Queensland, and that, with the co-operation of the State Government and the growers, a valuable national industry will be established. Possibly in their old age Senators Brown andCourtice will admit that the present Government has helped to give this industry a good start. I am glad that its efforts are appreciated on both sides of the chamber, and I shall accept with equanimity the criticism which almost invariably comes from a section of the Opposition. I should have thought that senators who directly represent the Queensland cotton growers would at least have had the grace to express their gratitude to the Government for what it is trying to do for the industry.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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