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Wednesday, 7 July 1920

Mr HUGHES - I could ask them, but unless they were advised beforehand they could hardly commit themselves.

Mr Tudor - They have no authority to give an answer to such a question.

Mr HUGHES - The State Premiers arc meeting here to consider the definite questions of immigration, the Murray waters, uniform railway gauge, and one borrower and one tax-gatherer for Australia, which have been before them on many occasions, and twice in the present year. They have had an opportunity to discuss those matters with their respective Governments, and are coming here to give' me answers to the proposals placed before them. Since the Conference meets on Friday next, it is perfectly clear that they could not discuss the question of the Wheat Pool beforehand and supply me with an answer, on that date. I am given to understand that some of the States are prepared to consider favorably the formation of a Wheat Pool, while others are not. Even if they were that would not clear up the matter, because the position created by the voluntary Pool and the Commonwealth's guarantee in regard to all wheat has to be faced. I am unable to say how the Commonwealth is to deal with the subject matter for which that guarantee has been given, without machinery whereby that control can be exercised. That is the point that is worrying me. I said by way of answer to the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) the other day, that the position has been complicated by the quite definite pledges given at the last general election that no one would be forced to come into the Pool. Those pledges, however, do not affect the States. The States themselves can act, and if they did the Commonwealth would consider itself quite free to act in conjunction with them. The position in regard to the voluntary Pool is not affected by the attitude taken up by the States' in regard to wheat in their own territories.


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