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Friday, 19 February 1932

Mr BERNARD CORSER (Wide Bay) . - The Queensland Canegrowers Association at Bundaberg has communicated with me also intimating that it desires the Prime -Minister to inspect the sugar cane-fields of that district on his next visit to Queensland. When the Prime Minister made his first statement regarding the sugar agreement, I took the opportunity to. convey to him the invitation of the sugar interests of Queensland to examine the conditions of the industry before taking any action to reduce prices. The right- honorable gentleman has been good enough to intimate that he will be pleased to accept the invitation so soon as his parliamentary obligations and national duties permit. That information has been conveyed to those engaged in the sugar industry. The Prime Minister set at ease to no small degree the minds of the sugar-growers of Queeusland when he made it clear that, in his opinion, the agreement was binding, and that he merely hoped for a voluntary review of its conditions. I have no objection to the' suggestion of the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse). I regret that many of our wheat and wool producers are receiving a mere pittance, not even equal to the living wage, in return for their work on the land, but there should be no general desire on the part of honorable members to bring to a similar level the producers in an industry that is existing solely because of its complete organization. We should rather seek to lift from depression industries that are suffering. It is not fair to say that the sugar-growers have made no sacrifice. In 1922, the return to the grower was £30 6s. 8d. a ton, and today he has suffered a reduction of £18 a ton, which is even greater than the reduction in the cost of labour and transport and other things.- The sugar grower is, therefore,, suffering . a tremendous reduction in price. This year it is hoped that not £2,000,000 ' but £3,500,000, which includes exchange, will be returned to, Australia for the sugar that is exported to markets in competition with black labour countries which cannot produce sugar' at the price. When examining the conditions of the sugar industry, we should be fair enough to admit that the price of Queensland sugar must be higher than that, of sugar grown by black labour- and selling in the open market at a price less than the cost of production here. I thank1 the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) for his courtesy in accepting tlie invitation of the Canegrowers' Association to make a personal inspection of the sugar industry.

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