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Wednesday, 10 April 1946

Mr SPEAKER (Hon J S Rosevear (DALLEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Order! This debate cannot be converted into a " Food for Britain " issue. 1 1 is concerned with the sugar agreement, not the exports of sugar to Britain.

Mr WHITE - With due respect, I submit that the local price of sugar is fixed according to the quantity of sugar exported. The grower has been asking for a subsidy to counteract any reduction of export prices. I do not consider that an industry which is so well ' protected as is the sugar industry needs export assistance of that kind. Our exports should be sent first to Britain, and secondly to European countries in which humanity's oldest enemy, famine and 'disease, stalks so fiercely through the land. Australia is a great producer of sugar, and has sent large quantities to New Zealand, Canada, the Middle East, and the United States of America.

Mr Dedman - At the request of the British Government.

Mr WHITE - That is so.

Mr Dedman - The honorable member should make that clear. The sugar was offered to the United Kingdom, and that is what the British Government decided should be done with it.

Mr WHITE - That was in 1942.

Mr Dedman - And this year, also.

Mr WHITE - Does the Minister say that if we were to offer 50,000 tons of sugar to Great Britain the government of that country would refuse it?

Mr Dedman - The Government of the United Kingdom would have to put it into the pool, and might decide to send it elsewhere. The honorable member is trying to make out that we are not fulfilling our obligations to Great Britain. He is wrong.

Mr WHITE - I say that the Government is not fulfilling its obligations. A fortnight ago, I asked a question upon notice as to whether the Government had, at any time, given one pound's worth of food to Great Britain, and the answer I received was " No ".

All parties in this House support the renewal of the sugar agreement. I hope that the Department of Commerce and Agriculture will endeavour to arrange for the export of more and more sugar to countries which need it. Mr. Hoover, the United States delegate to the Food Commission now sitting in Great Britain, and the man who played such a magnificent part in the distribution of food after the last war, said : -

The final voice of victory is that of the guns, but the. first voice of peace is food.

Let us see if we can restore our sugar exports to 300,000 tons, the figure at which they previously stood, but from which they have steadily receded. The Opposition supports the renewal of the agreement which has, during the last 30 years, proved to be fair to all the interests concerned - growers, manufacturers, distributors and consumers.

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