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Tuesday, 19 December 1905

Mr FISHER (Wide Bay) - I deeply regret that the Senate has seen fit to insert this amendment. I understand that if Parliament is not prepared to accept it nothing can be done during the present session. To my mind, it is all important that the Bill should be passed before we prorogue. The honorable and learned member for Parkes has scarcely put the position accurately. I would point out to him that no bounty is really paid to the white growers of sugar. They merely receive a rebate upon the contribution which they make to the Treasury. If we were to abolish both the excise and the bounty the Commonwealth and the States would receive less revenue than they do now. In my opinion this matter can be better discussed at a later period, because it is absolutely necessary, in the interests of the sugargrowers of Queensland and New South Wales, that the Bill should be passed this session. One point that I want honorable members to recollect is that under this legislation the whitesugar-growers will be required to Fay £,4 per ton Excise, and out of that they will be refunded a sum of ^3 per ton to enable them to differentiate between the cost of employing white as against coloured labour. The Bill does not raise the question of free-trade versus protection. It represents an endeavour to settle the northern parts of Australia with an agricultural people, who, when once established there, will not only prove good citizens, but will provide an efficient defence of that portion of this great country.

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