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Monday, 1 October 1906

Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania) . - No stronger reason could be advanced for the omission of this item than that which has been urged by Senator Drake, who contends that the production of cocoa necessitates the employment of only the minimum of labour. If his statement be correct, why should we grant a bounty for this commodity at all? I take it that we offer bounties \\'111 a view to increasing the employment of labour throughout the Commonwealth.

Senator Drake - With a view to increasing the wealth of the country.

Senator CLEMONS - Surely it is desirable to afford employment to labour. Into whose hands will this bonus play? Senator Drake has said that the cultivation of the cacao tree necessitates the employment of very little labour - that after the trees have been planted, the grower has merely to wait for his crop. Consequently the bounty will fmd its way into the hands of capitalists.

Senator Drake - No, but into the hands of small settlers.

Senator Pearce - How can a small settler afford to wait for six years for a crop ?

Senator Drake - He would not depend on cocca alone.

Senator CLEMONS - I do not know where in Australia a small settler can be found who is prepared to embark upon an industry in which he will have to wait six years before he can reap his crop. Senator Drake stated that the cultivation of the cacao tree will employ very little labour.

Senator Drake - That is where the small settler comes in ; he can plant the trees himself.

Senator CLEMONS - If that be so, he does not require a bounty. I cannot conceive of any item which ought to be rejected more readily than ought this one. Concerning the possibility of successfully producing cocoa, Senator Smith, who knows a great deal about this matter-

Senator Drake - What does he know?

Senator CLEMONS - At any rate, he has given us a great deal more information in respect of this Bill than have the representatives of the Government. He has stated that there is no place in the world which is not within from 12 to 15 degrees of the Equator, and which does not attain, an altitude of from 1,500 to 2,000 feet above sea level where cocoa can be successfully grown. There may be such a place at the northern extremity of Cape York-

Senator Stewart - What about Cairns?

Senator CLEMONS - I do not think that the neighbourhood of Cairns is a very mountainous one. I do not think there is any mountainous land near Cairns suitable for this industry; and I hope the Committee will reject the item, because, in my opinion, it represents an absolute waste of money.

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