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Thursday, 8 September 1949

Mr CHIFLEY - It is true that a committee was established in 1939 to inquire into the sugar industry, and that representation was granted to consuming interests on that body. The last increase of the price of sugar resulted from representations made by the Queensland Government, the Queensland Sugar Board and representatives of the sugar-growers. On that occasion a full survey was made of the industry not by a 'board of inquiry, but by highly trained officers and experts. No board of inquiry has since been established and it is not proposed to establish such a body to report upon the industry. The honorable member's request for the appointment of a lady representative of the consumers will, however, be given consideration, should such a body be established at some future time. About three weeks ago, at the Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held at Canberra, representations were made to me and to other Ministers by a deputation consisting of representatives of the Queensland Government, the chairman of the Queensland Sugar Board and representatives of the Queensland sugar producers, for an increase of the price of sugar by id. per lb. The deputation pressed for an immediate decision. No board of inquiry was established but the request is being examined by the experts in the Department of Trade and Customs and by representatives of the Treasury. The preliminary inquiries have not yet been completed. In regard to the last portion of the honorable member's question, relating to the availability of sugar for the canning industry, I think that ample supplies of sugar have been made available in the past to meet the requirements of the canning industry and other industrial users of sugar including breweries. Those industries require refined sugar. Ample stocks of raw sugar have always been available.

Mrs Blackburn - I was speaking of domestic jam-making.

Mr CHIFLEY - Probably refined sugar is also preferred for domestic jam-making. The shortage of sugar for jams, preserves and the canning of fruit has not been due to a shortage of raw sugar. There has been ample raw sugar but for various reasons, including industrial troubles, sufficient refined sugar has not been available. I shall investigate the matter and ascertain whether it is possible to arrange for a proper distribution of refined sugar for the making of jams and preserves.

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