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Tuesday, 23 August 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) .- In 1911, the Bureau of Agriculture of the United States of America sent circulars to wheat farmers all over the Union, and received 5,000 replies showing the cost of planting an acre of wheat, and the value of produce therefrom. From this information, the Bureau struck an average, demonstrating that, in 1911, the cost of working an acre of wheat land in the United States of America was £2 6s. 6d., while the average return was £3 8s. 6d., giving a net return of £1 2s., as against Is. 5d. in Australia, according to the finding of the New South Wales Commission of 1916. I have already shown what the state of the industry was in that normal period. I propose now to show what the farmer received for his wheat during the war period. We hear a great deal about how the wheat-grower was advantaged by a Pool taking over the control of wheat, and I am not prepared to dispute the fact. On scores of occasions I have said that, h!ad it not been for the Pool, the fanners of Asustralia would not have got what they did get. According to the figures quoted by the Minister for Agriculture in Western Australia last week, the average net return to the farmer in the first year after the war started was 4s. 4¼d. per bushel. There is a chance of us getting another¼d. For the succeeding years, the average net return secured was 4s. l½d. in 1916-17; 4s. 9d. in 1917-18; 5b. 2d. in 1918-19; 8s. 6d. in 1919-20; and 6s. 3d. for the harvest just garnered.

Senator Duncan - How many million, pounds were obtained for wool in the same period?

Senator LYNCH - The people engaged in the wool industry have their own problems. I am speaking of that element in the population' which outnumbers those engaged in any other industry.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - There are far more people engaged in secondary industries than in wheat-growing.

Senator LYNCH - Possibly, in the aggregate; but I am . speaking of a single industry. In that respect, wheatgrowing stands at the top of the list so far a3 Australia is concerned. The New South Wales Commission has shown that for ten years the net return to the wheatgrower has not exceeded 3s. 4d. per bushel. A 50 per cent, increase on 3s. 4d. is 5s., but that 5s. was not received by the farmer until the war was over. Senator

Elliott has told us that the increase in the price of machinery represents from 60 per cent, to 70 per cent., but I know from personal experience that it has been nearer SO per cent., and, in some cases, 100 per cent. That is the balance-sheet of the wheat-growing industry of this country. I could refer to other industries and show the vast increases that the producers of commodities have received, and though the wheat-grower enjoyed no like advantages he is now asked to bear this extra impost. If we pile up these duties we pile them on that section of the community which is least able to bear them. As was well said by Senator Drake-Brockman, if we desire to diversify our industries and broaden the basis of our industrial fabric, we cannot do so by giving unnecessaryand unasked for protection to the manufacturers mentioned, and" thus further burdening the primary producers.

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