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Tuesday, 19 December 1905

Mr BAMFORD (Herbert) - I need not refer to the wild statements of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. His assertions are usually of an exaggerated nature.

Sir William Lyne - He has misstated what I said.

Mr BAMFORD - I do not think that a fair view of this question has been taken by Parliament. When it was being discussed only a few days ago I said that I was in favour of adopting a sliding scale under which the bounty would automatically vanish ; but that, in view of the conditions surrounding the industry the term for which it was proposed to extend the bounty was altogether too short. Had the measure passed provided for a period of five years, and had the other Chamber adopted a sliding scale extending over eight years - a sliding scale under which the bounty would diminish at, say,12½ per cent. per annum -I should have been quite willing to accept it, because I believe that finality must be reached sooner or later.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It will be quite open to us to graduate the bounty when the time comes.

Mr BAMFORD - That is so, but I would be willing to have it done now. I hope that later on a more reasonable view of the situation will be taken. I do not know whether the Government intend to accept the amendment without making any alterations in theSugar Excise Bill.

Sir William Lyne - The Government is attempting to make an alteration.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the honorable member think that a majority of sugargrowers are in favour of the adoption of 'a sliding scale?

Mr BAMFORD - I think that they are. No more reasonable set of men can be found in the country than are the sugar-growers. They recognise that this bounty cannot be continued indefinitely, and are, I think, prepared to accept a moderate compromise. The northern.' sugar-grower labours under a very severe handicap indeed. He is much more unfavorably situated than are the growers of New South Wales and Southern Queensland. Although he is able, by entering into contracts with the InterState shipping companies, to secure the carriage of his product to market at a reasonable price, it must be recollected that the commodities which go north are very severely handicapped by high freights.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - In New South Wales the industry would have progressed without the aid of a bonus.

Mr BAMFORD - Because the conditions which obtain there are much more favorable. Honorable members are doubtless aware that on the Australian coast there is a shipping combine whose terms are very rigid indeed. In this connexion I may observe that on the north coast of Queensland there is a small steamer owned by a private individual, which carries goods from the creeks and rivers along the coast for transhipment south, and the shipping companies even refuse to handle the produce carried by that vessel. Before concluding my remarks, I would point out that the honorable member for Parkes made a slight error when he declared that in one division, which took place in this House upon the Bill under consideration, there was a majority of only two. May I remind him that that division was upon an amendment submitted by the honorable member for Coolgardie, in favour of the substitution of the word " ten " for " twelve." The actual majority against the application of a sliding scale to the bounty was six. The honorable and learned member implied that it was a freetrade victory, when, as a matter of fact, no less than seven protectionists voted with the free-traders. I trust that before the measure is finally passed, the Committee will come to some arrangement with regard to the Excise upon sugar.

Sir WILLIAMLYNE (Hume- Minister of Trade and Customs). - I do not know what the other Chamber is likely to do in regard to the Excise Bill. I feel, however, that the proper course for us to take is to make the Excise fit in with the amendment which has been made in the measure under consideration. Otherwise, during the last two years the bounty is operative, the white growers will be placed at a disadvantage of £1 and £2 per ton respectively. That was not' the intention of the House. Though we may not now be able to adjust the matter in the way that we desire we shall have ample time to do so before the termination of 1913- I trust that whatever Government may be in power will take action with regard to any law which places white men at a disadvantage. I feel very strongly that it is not right to allow the Excise to remain at its full rate until 191 3, while at the same time reducing the bounty during the last two years. The adoption of that course means to some extent departing from legislation which has been already passed with regard to the question of white labour, since it will place upon the employment of that class of labour an impost which ought not to exist. I am satisfied that as soon as the effect of this is seen Parliament will refuse to allow it to continue.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It will be a very good argument for the introduction of another Bill next session.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Every argument the honorable gentleman has used has been against the passing of this.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - No. If time permitted, the discussion upon this question would be very much longer thanitis likely to be, but in any event I wish my position and that of the Government to be made abundantly clear - that, in view of the fact that we have reached the closing hours of the session, we are practically forced to agree to the amendment, but that it is with very great reluctance that we ask the Committee to accept it.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Resolution reported; report adopted.

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