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Wednesday, 4 August 1954

Mr BRAND (Wide Bay) . - It is my privilege to second the motion of loyalty that was so well moved by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Lindsay). I should like to congratulate the honorable member on his speech and to state that I agree with all the sentiments that he expressed. Like the honorable member for Flinders, I am a newcomer to this House. I am taking the place of a man who, in the fulness of his life, thought that it was time for him to leave the public stage. Although all public men experience sadness when they leave public life and a lon<* association with other men, I am sure that Mr. Bernard Corser carries with him into retirement the goodwill not only of the members of this House but also1 of thousands of people in Queensland who1 appreciate his public service to that State. I should also like to1 congratulate you, Mr.. Speaker, upon your election to the very high office which you occupy. During the debate nhat preceded your, election, it was stated that you were so fair minded' that you could criticize even the Government which you supported when you sat on the back bench. However, I am satisfied that you do not feel, that you can criticize the achievements of the Government during, the last four years. I, too, am very proud indeed to be a supporter of a government that has done more for Australia than has any previous government.

I am pleased to see my leader, the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), here after the. very nasty accident that he suffered on the eve of election day. Many of us thought that he would not be as- well as he is to-night when the Parliament assembled. It is pleasing to see him displaying that degree of courage and spirit that has enabled him to take his place in this chamber., The people of Queensland deeply appreciated the election tour of the Prime Minister. (Mr. Menzies). 1 compliment the right honorable gentleman upon his great public reception, the best reception that, a public man has ever had in that State. There can be no doubt that the confidence of the people of Australia in- the leadership of the Prime Minister was reflected in the confidence of the people of Queensland. If I were asked for my impressions to-day, I should say that the freedom of outlook that is expressed in the faces of honorable members on this side of the House far surpasses the outlook of socialism to which honorable members opposite are dedicated. There can be no doubt that freedom; of industrial life its opposed to socialism must play a. very important part in the future of this country.

It was gratifying to hear His Excellency the Governor-General, at the opening of this Parliament, indicate th-n-t the Government will carry out the promises- that, were made during the election campaign. If, during the life of this Parliament, the Government strengthens: Australia's security, maintains ahealthy economy, develops our- natural resources', and. attends, to- the social welfare of the people, it. will have justified public confidence. It is; time that defence plays a very important part in the life, of Australia. I- agree with the statement of the honorable member for Flinders that, in view of events, in South-East Asia, we must safeguard the defence of our country. I am pleased to note, also, that the Government proposes to retain th': Foreign Affairs 'Committee and that it is hoped that all parties will participate in its deliberations'. There can be no division in relation to defence matters- in w democratic country like Australia. J have no doubt that the people of: Australia are more prosperous than they have ever been and that' that is due to the policy of the Government over the last four years. For many years I have listened to the claim that this country owes its prosperity to the wool industry. The Government recognized that the wool industry means so much to the security of our economy and that the export industries were so important that it decided to develop them. Consequently, Australia's exports have earned manymillions of pounds..

It was pleasing to hear in the GovernorGeneral's Speech to-day that our overseas funds are in credit to the amount of £570,000,000'. This indicates that the. Government has worked actively in the interests1 of the producers and the people of this country. But more should be done to assist the woolgrowers. This Government's action in maintaining the auction system of marketing wool has afforded the wool industry a measure of protection and has done much to enable it to maintain its high position in the export trade. Though governments throughout Australia are ever ready to- acclaim- the wool industry as the basis of the nation's economy they have done little to help graziers in the fight against the blow-fly and other fleecedestroying pests. I trust that this Government will realize that the wool industry may have t'o pass through tryingtimes' with depressed prices, and' that it will help this industry as it has helped others. The wool industry may find itself in a position similar to that of the wheat industry, which has been of immense benefit to Australia and now finds itself short of markets. It is alarming and pitiable to learn that wheat-farmers' organizations in New South "Wales are advising growers to limit wheat acreages and to turn to other crops. This country lives largely by bread, and wheat is important. Production has been far greater than the total of our domestic requirements and our export quota under the International Wheat Agreement, and the position of the industry is now uncertain. But if anything happens to reduce our income from wool and to weaken the position of the wool industry, wheat will be of immense benefit in helping to maintain the stability of our economy.

This Government has done much tj assist the food-producing industries to achieve prosperity and to attain the production targets set for them by the Australian Agricultural Council. Those who might now be concerned about the position of some industries can take heart from the Government's fulfilment of its election promise to continue its good work. It has again guaranteed to the butter industry, another great food producer, a price of 49.29d. per lb. The cost of production in this industry to-day is 51.5Sd. per lb. The Government's response to the appeal of the dairying industry to continue the guarantee so that it may carry on under the present difficult conditions is an encouraging indication to all Australian food producers that this Government is watching their best interests and will 'do its utmost to help them to prosperity. Some of our great food-producing industries have not yet attained the production targets set out for them by the Australian Agricultural Council, but this Government's policy should ensure that they will do so by 1957-58, which was the target .year originally decided upon. The production targets in wool, wheat and .sugar have been achieved, and the target for beef has almost been attained. Producers of these commodities will need all the assistance that governments can give them in marketing their produce. I was pleased to learn to-day from the proceedings of this House that the trade missions ito South Africa and Asia were highly successful and that Australia will continue to send .abroad missions of this sort. They are .good for the country., and the fact that banking institutions are sending representatives with them indicates that our financial institutions have confidence in the Government's policy.

It is essential that we find markets for the commodities that have been overproduced as a result of a clear policy that was endorsed by this Parliament. The Government acknowledges its obliga tions to many primary industries, and I may be pardoned for mentioning one that has been of great importance to Queensland in particular and to Australia in general for many years. I refer to the sugar industry of Queensland and northern New South Wales, to which the Government and this Parliament have given close attention. Australia is now the fourth largest producer of .sugar in the world. This position has been attained only by the assistance of Australian governments. The Liberal and Australian Country parties have never sought to take the full credit for the development of the sugar industry, for they acknowledge that the Labour party has helped greatly in the development of this industry. In all sugar-producing countries governments have had to take a leading part in the development of the industry, and in Australia a peculiar form of assistance to the industry has been adopted for many years. The judgments of the past were sound and other sugarproducing countries now look to the Australian sugar industry for a lead in solving their difficulties, particularly in disposing .of the over production of 'sugar. The industry in Australia has developed considerably .since 1949, when the Government led by the late Right Honorable J. B. Chifley sent the Queensland Premier of the time, the late .Mr.. E. M. Hanlon, to London to negotiate an agreement with other British Empire producers for a larger quota of sterling sugar, which was then in short .supply on the world's markets. Under the new agreement Australia secured a market for 200,00.0 tons in addition to the quota of 400,000 tons which it had .been allotted under the former agreement. That meant that Australia had to supply 600,00 tons under the Empire Sugar Agreement. Whereas in 1948-49, we exported 444,000 tons, valued at approximately £13,000,000, last year we exported 740,000 tons valued at £28,325,000, the latter figure being 140,000 tons in excess of our sterling target. That expansion of the sugar industry resulted from the policy that was deliberately adopted by this National Parliament. There oan be no question that the Government has continued the Australian Sugar Agreement in a manner that is entirely satisfactory to the industry. To-day, with the exception of South African sugar, Australian sugar is the cheapest in the world. The Government has also been responsible for obtaining more favorable terms for the industry under the Empire Sugar Agreement which provides for a price of £46 a ton, an amount equal to the domestic price in this country. Recently, the Government sponsored an agreement among all the exporting and importing countries. I pay tribute particularly to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O'sullivan) and also to Mr. Gair, the Premier of Queensland, for the manner in which they handled those negotiations. This Government has given considerable thought to the ramifications of the international sugar agreement. It recognized that Cuba, which was not a combatant in World War II., had produced 5,000,000 tons of sugar, and that because that country was unable to find a dollar market, over 2,000,000 tons of that quantity had been left to rot in the fields. The Government recognized that the price must be a figure which Great Britain and other sterling countries could afford to pay. Last year, sugar exported to Canada from this country earned for us a total of 10,000,000 dollars. Thus, it is a very handy commodity.

I compliment the Government upon its success at the recent general election. I acknowledge the outstanding benefits that it has conferred upon our primary industries, and I have no doubt that it will continue to pursue similar policies which will be in the best interests not only of our primary producers, to whom every encouragement should be given to increase production, but also of the people of this country as a whole.

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