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Thursday, 3 April 1941

Senator COOPER (Queensland) . - I congratulate the Government upon having anticipated a request from the Cotton-growers for further assistance 'by bringing down this bill. This legislation will assure the growers that they may carry on safely. Unlike many other primary industries, the cotton-growing industry is not dependent on overseas markets. Australia's requirements of cotton are sufficiently great to enable the industry to expand enormously. Last year production totalled 8,000 bales, whereas this year the crop is estimated to yield about 15,000 bales. Our annual consumption of cotton totals 70,000 bales, but one would be rash to estimate what that consumption will be a year or two hence in view of the immense requirements of cotton in the war industries. The increased market for cotton is a development of the war. Another development of the war, however, is a reduction of the value of the bounty which was passed last year. Unless this bill be passed, owing to the closing down of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange, on the prices of which the bounty was computed, and the huge carry-over of cotton and consequent slump of cotton prices to about 2d. sterling per lb. in the United States of America and in other American countries the growers will suffer. Honorable senators realize that under white labour conditions in Queensland . we cannot hope to grow cotton at such low prices. It has become necessary, therefore, that the Commonwealth Government assure those engaged in the production of - cotton that for a number of years they shall have a stable price which will encourage them to stay in the industry, and induce others to forsake other pursuits in favour of cotton-growing. Under the assistance given by the Government of Queensland the industry in that State has made great progress in the last twelve months. Scientific methods of production have been applied and the State Government has made available instructors who give their assistance to growers in the best methods of sowing and cultivation. I am confident that within a few years the cotton industry will be one of the largest primary industries in Australia. The market is available and we can manufacture the finished article. There is no reason, therefore, why we should not expand our cotton-growing industry to such a degree that it will be able to supply the whole of our needs. If that bedone there will be a great field of employment for our people.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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