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Thursday, 27 October 1904

Sir GEORGE TURNER (BALACLAVA, VICTORIA) (Treasurer) - The honorable and learned member misapprehends the meaning of the word "producer." The figures do not refer to the men actually working as labourers on the cane fields ; the number of producers is the number of persons registered as owners of properties on which cane is being grown. While the white producers - that is, the registered proprietors, who grow Cane solely with the aid of white labour - have generally small holdings, many of the black producers - that is, the proprietors who grow cane with the aid of black labour - are companies, and hold large areas, employing a large number of men.

Mr Batchelor - Then a black producer need not be a black man at all.

Sir GEORGE TURNER - It is not meant that the proprietor of the plantation is a white man or a black man, but that he employs white or black labour, as the case may be. I believe that the figures aTe correct. The Treasury has no means of checking them, but they were supplied by the Customs Department from information obtained by Customs officials in New South Wales and Queensland. I myself saw that the acreage of black and white production was very nearly alike in Queensland.

Sir John Forrest - No ; not half.

Mr Fisher - Not the cultivated acreage.

Sir GEORGE TURNER - I am giving the information supplied to us as to the area under cultivation. I saw there was a great discrepancy in the production of sugar; and' my idea was that it arose from the fact that those who employed white labour were in the southern parts of the sugar districts, where there has been cultivation for year's, and where the crops are not so large as in the northern parts, where the greater part of the black labour is used, and there is practically virgin soil. That was my idea of th'e explanation ; but to be on the safe side, I telegraphed to the Collector in Queensland for information. I learn from my officers that a telegram has been received to-day, saying that a letter containing the information will arrive to-morrow, and to that letter I shall give every publicity.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) -- May I make an addition to my question, in, order to prevent any misunderstanding on the part of the Treasurer ? This return is headed " White and Black Producers," but at the top of each column there appear the words, "white labour," and "black labour."

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