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Thursday, 29 October 1931

Mr HILL (Echuca) .- I am confident that had the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) been here last week he would not have made the statements that he has just uttered. He would then have understood much better the previous proposal of the Government, and how it affected the various States. This bill does not penalize one State more than another. . Under it South Australia does not suffer any disadvantage as compared with Victoria. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) suggested that a bounty," irrespective of the price of wheat, was wrong, and that it should not be paid if the price reached 4s. or 5s. per bushel. Quite probably if those figures were reached the growers would not have the effrontery to ask for a bounty. I certainly think that they are improbable of attainment for some considerable time.

There are three methods by which the bounty could have been paid. Had I the power to fix it I should decree that the bounty should be paid on last year's production. " *

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - So should I, but the honorable member has been told many times that that cannot be done.

Mr HILL - I accept the Minister's assurance. Had that been possible it would have given us, on a 200,000,000- bushel harvest, an approximate bounty of 3|d. per bushel, taking into account the wheat used for local consumption, seed purposes, and export. Such a bounty would have been distributed very much more equitably than the present one can be. Those who know anything about wheat-growing conditions in Victoria and New South Wales must be aware that thousands of growers in each of those States will be unable to market even a bag of wheat this year. Last season they responded to the appeal of the Prime Minister and the Premiers, and turned out a bumper crop, on which they lost money. This year they will again lose money. [ should be much more satisfied if they could be provided for by this bill.

I am sure that, when he is in full possession of the facts, the honorable member for Grey will absolve me of State parochialism. I have already made it clear that I favoured a bounty of 6d. per bushel on all wheat exported. That scheme would have had an effect similar to the one introduced by the Minister, without its entanglements. It would automatically have lifted the price of wheat by 6d. per bushel. On the estimated exportable surplus a bounty of 6d. would not cost the Government more than £2,750,000. I know that the decision of the banks has hampered the Minister in hi3 desire to help the farmers. At the same time I contend that the whole scheme is wrong. Even with the 4£d. bounty, growers will receive H[Quorum formed.~[

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