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Monday, 18 December 1905

Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia) (Minister of Defence) . - We have reached an impasse, because the number on each side is exactly the same, and therefore, according to the provision of the Constitution Act, the question, whichever way it is put, must pass in the negative. Undoubtedly this clause will be lost if a division be taken, and any attempt to insert another clause must fail ; in fact, neither side can do anything. I have listened to the debate. The position which is taken up by a great many honorable senators is one which has been taken up in another place, and considered by Ministers in Cabinet, and that is that we should have a sliding scale of some sort, so as to indicate to the growers in Queensland that, so far as we are concerned, the bounty shall terminate at a certain time, and on a tapering scale. The proposal of the Government is that the bonus shall terminate at the end of five years, but with no sliding scale. When we get into a position of this kind we have to compromise. The genius of Englishmen has always enabled them, in such circumstances, to effect a compromise. I think that a very fair suggestion has been made by honorable senators on the other side, and that is to continue the bounty for a period of four years on the same terms and conditions as Ave proposed to continue it for five years, but in the fifth year to reduce the amount from 6s. to 4s., and in the sixth year from 4s. to 2s. So far as the Government are concerned, we should give exactly the same amount to the canegrowers under that compromise as under the terms of the Bill. There are a great many honorable senators who wish to see a sliding scale of some sort adopted.

Senator Mulcahy - Have the Government accepted this compromise?

Senator PLAYFORD - I am prepared to accept the compromise here. I am not absolutely certain, because I have not had an opportunity of consulting all my colleagues, but I believe that in another place it will be accepted by the Government.

Senator Mulcahy - We ought to know whether it will be accepted by the Government or not.

Senator PLAYFORD - I do not wish to make an absolute promise when I am not sure, but I believe that the compromise will be accepted.

Senator Dobson - Let us go on with something else until the Minister ascertains whether it will be accepted.

Senator PLAYFORD - If honorable senators will not trust me I shall fight it out. ,

Senator GIVENS(Queensland).- If the number on each side be the same, and a division be taken on this clause, the result must be that the Bill will be defeated.

Senator Millen - Not if we can find a reasonable compromise.

Senator GIVENS - If this Bill be defeated the Excise Bill will be defeated, and the result will be that the States will lose revenue.

Senator Mulcahy - We shall have all next year in which to legislate.

Senator GIVENS - Next year ,the position will be exactly the same. Is it fair to block all enterprise by not legislating in this session ? In addition to the States losing revenue, it will seriously injure an important industry in another State.

Senator Playford - That is a very fair compromise, and if it is accepted it will save the Bill.

Senator GIVENS - Having put the case to honorable senators, they can vote with their eyes open, and with a full knowledge of the consequences of their votes.

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