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Thursday, 19 February 1959

Mr ADERMANN (FISHER, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Primary Industry) - I presume that the means which will be used for the harvesting of sugar in the forthcoming season will be similar to those used in the preceding season, that is, part manual and part mechanical. The sugar industry is very efficient and is continually seeking to become more efficient. I hope that the honorable member is not suggesting that an industry should not seek to become more efficient. But after all, when an industry becomes more efficient, is it not entitled to the benefits of its increased efficiency?

The honorable member asked whether the present price of sugar under the agreement with the States was fixed prior to the installation of bulk handling facilities. It was. I remind the honorable member that probably he and other southerners at times would have been without sugar if the industry had retained its previous methods of loading sugar and transporting it south. There were times when the storehouses were overfull and the mills would have had to refrain from crushing because they could not get their sugar despatched to the south. It was really due to the increased efficiency on the part of the industry that these difficulties' were overcome.

I remind the honorable member that subsequent to the fixation of price, as he terms it, wages in the industry have been increased to meet increases in the cost of living and general costs. I feel that, having regard to the low level of export prices and the fact that the sugar industry has had to fight for the retention of present overseas prices, it is entitled to the present home consumption price; and there will be no reduction of that price.

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