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Thursday, 14 June 1928

Mr WATSON (Fremantle) .- The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) rightly claimed that the purpose of the imposition of this duty is to make the householders of Australia pay more for butter; and it will certainly do this. Another purpose that it is expected to accomplish is to ensure that the producers shall get more for their cream. It would be far better to pay a bonus direct ' to the cream producers, as it would go into the right pockets, whereas the return from this imposition will not. The Labour party support this duty because they claim it to be a protective measure.. It is no such thing; it is merely an exploiting imposition. We are selling nearly one half of our output on the world's markets in competition with the very people that this is intended to protect us from. New Zealand butter is being imported into Australia, though the present duty is 2d. per lb., and the costs of getting it here approximately -Id. per lb. Within the last few months approximately 80,000 boxes of New Zealand butter has come into Australia. Such a duty as this merely penalizes the consuming public. Our butter is being exported to overseas' markets at present, and realizes ls. 3d. per lb. f.o.b. The householders' of Great Britain are buying the choicest of 0111 butter for ls. 7d. per lb. after 2d. per lb. transport charges have been met, while the householders ofAustralia are compelled to pay 2s. per lb. for butter. This duty will not prevent New Zealand butter from being imported, but will merely raise the price of butter to the cost of New Zealand butter landed, duty paid. It takes approximately 10 per cent, of the value of the output of our unfortunate dairymen for the upkeep of extravagant spending departments which are merely machines for finding big jobs for brainy men.

The Government is merely playing into the hands of the speculators who have large quantities of butter stored in Australia awaiting the application of this duty to unload it at the enhanced price. All that the imposition of the duty will do is to make speculators wealthy men. It will not benefit the dairymen to the extent that it should. We are asked to support an imposition that will make the disparity between British and Australian prices at least 3d. per lb. greater than it is now, without in any way preventng the importation of New Zealand butter, or commensurately benefiting the dairymen. The whole scheme is, as the honorable member for Wimmera has said, economically unsound. Sooner or later it will collapse, and half the people who are now living on the dairymen will be running round looking for jobs. It will not benefit the dairymen.

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