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Thursday, 3 April 1941

Senator COURTICE (Queensland) . - The bill provides for an amendment of the Raw Cotton Bounty Act of 1940 which has become necessary because of serious disturbances in the world markets for raw cotton and their effect on the incomes of raw cotton producers in Queensland. In the Raw Cotton Bounty Act 1940 provision was made for payment of a bounty to those engaged in the production of raw cotton in Australia. Had the industry been able to continue normally, there would have been no need for the introduction of the bill, but the effect of the wide fluctuations of the price of cotton have reduced the income of cottongrowers in Queensland. The introduction of the bill is appreciated by the 4,000 cotton-growers in that State. Associated with the bounty bill passed last year was an understanding between the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments that the industry was to be stabilized on a basis which would be of lasting benefit not only to the industry itself, but also to Queensland and the whole of Australia. So far the condition of the cotton-growing industry has not been satisfactory.. Efficiency demands improved cultural methods. To that end the Queensland Government has agreed to expend about £750,000 on the provision of irrigation and other services. It is anticipated that irrigation and the use of fertilizers will improve both the yield and the quality of the crop. In order that Parliament may keep a close eye on the development of this industry the Government should ensure that it is efficiently policed and that periodical reports are made to Parliament concerning the progress that is being made. The Queensland Government is sincere in its efforts to stabilize the industry, and, if the Commonwealth Government co-operates with it, permanent benefit should accrue. It is necessary that the industry be protected in every way possible. It is one of the few primary industries of this country which is not dependent on overseas markets. As against that, however, Queensland growers have to accept for their product world parity which is much below their cost of production. In the circumstances the Government is justified in paying them a bounty which will raise their returns sufficiently high to enable them to operate profitably. This measure, which is designed to ensure that the purpose of the bounty bill passed last year will be fulfilled, will, therefore, be welcomed by the growers, especially since, encouraged by that legislation to expand their operations, they have increased the acreage under cotton from 40,000 to 80,000 acres or by 100 per cent. The bounty has also had the effect of increasing the number of growers from 2,000 to 4,000. Honorable senators must realize the importance of the cottongrowing industry to this country.

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