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Wednesday, 7 July 1920

Mr HUGHES - Although the lot of the transgressor is hard, mine is much harder, because I am adjured by the honorable member for Wannon to do everything in my power to see that the producer gets the full value for his sheep, which obviously depends to a very large extent on whether the wool is to be put into the 1919-20 or 1920-21 clip; and at the same time I am urged by the honorable member for South Sydney to take such action as will insure cheap mutton to the public, at' a time when the pastoralists are holding back their sheep. I am not able to answer the honorable member's question off-hand. I do not know whether the high price of mutton is due in any respect to the export of mutton. I have no information to that effect. I should have thought that, when from 10.000,000 to 20,000,000 sheep had died through drought, and some through floods, that fact in itself would not be altogether a negligible factor in the increased price of mutton. I do not see any particular inducement being held out to the pastoralist to export mutton when the price for exportable mutton is at present certainly not more than half of what he can get here. I believe that in the sales last week lamb brought 9d. to 91/2d. per lb. on the hoof, whereas the price for lamb under the British contract is61/2d.

That being so, it would be far better for the .pastoralists to sell their sheep here than to export them. Why they should, export mutton at 6 Ja. per lb. when they can get 9d. per lb. for it here, I cannot understand. Every one, however, must have a fair chance to present his case. If the fellmongers are suffering from any grievance which is resulting in the shortening of hands, if in the absence of wool men are being put out of employment - I' shall have to consider the question on its merits.

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