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Wednesday, 1 September 1920

Mr HUGHES - What I said was that there was a grand total which .the Central Wool Committee proposed to distribute, amounting to £13,091,833. This money is made up of two sums, namely, £7,653,292 and £5,438,541. Now, that first-named total includes £6,486,922- which is the interim dividend to be paid by the British Government; and the remainder of the sum represents the administration profits of the Wool Committee. Of these two amounts, namely, £7,65-3,292 and £5,438,541- the Central Wool Committee states that the latter sum will be paid by the Committee in all wool centres of the Commonwealth on 22nd September. As for the other item, the date on which it is to be paid cannot be more definitely indicated than it has been up to the present. The Central Wool Committee is quite right in saying that it all depends upon circumstances-; but it has indicated the 27th .October for the payment of the interim dividend, provided that the arrangements can be completed with the Committee's bankers for the transfer of the money from the bank in London to Australia; and, at present, the Central Wool 'Committee has not got the money in London. There are two conditions, the first of which is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer shall pay it into the bank; and the second is that it is to be transferred to Australia. Subject to that, two definite and perfectly clear facts emerge - (1) that a sum of £5,438,000 is to be paid on the 22nd September, and (2) a sum of £7,653,000 on the 27th October.

There is only one other matter to which reference need be made. The interim dividend paid by the British Government represents the interim dividends for the two years ending 31st March, 1918, and 31st March, 1919. The confusion, if any, which arises in the minds of honorable members is due to the fact that they and the wool-growers now learn for the first time that, in addition to that interim dividend, there is a sum of about £6,000,000 to be paid of which they knew nothing whatever before. That, however, should be a ground for not confusion, but rejoicing. Let us, therefore, rejoice. There should be no confusion whatever on the other point, nor is there any uncertainty except as to what the 2,000,000 bales of a carryover will fetch. If they fetch, on the average, more than 15½d. then they will not reduce the interim dividend to be paid on 31st March, 1920. If they fetch much less, then they will drag down the dividend, but there is no doubt whatever that there will be a substantial further dividend.

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