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Wednesday, 30 July 1930

Senator McLACHLAN (South Australia) . - Can the Minister say if the variety mentioned in the definition clause is produced in Tasmania, or is it intended to cultivate it in order to qualify for the bounty?

Senator Barnes - It always has been cultivated in the Commonwealth. The New Zealand flax plant differs from it somewhat in certain characteristics.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 (Rates of bounty).

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE (Western Australia) [6.10]. - I move -

That the following proviso be added: -

Provided that no bounty shall be payable in respect of flax unless and until the production of flax within the Commonwealth exceeds a total of 274 tons of fibre, and no bounty shall be payable in respect of linseed unless and until the production of linseed within the Commonwealth exceeds 4,460 tons.

My object is to give effect to the recommendation of the Tariff Board, that the bounty shall not be payable until onefifth of the total requirements of the Commonwealth in fibre and seed are produced. This condition is mentioned on page 17 of the board's report, to which Senator Lawson referred during the second-reading debate. I am afraid that many honorable seators have not read the report. If they had, they would not have supported this measure. It states that even in Kenya Colony, where the climate is very suitable, and where cheap black labour is available, flax-growing has practically disappeared, although in 1920 the area under cultivation was no less than 25,000 acres. In New Zealand, also, production seriously declined. In 1923-24, there were 12,000 acres under cultivation, and in 1927-28 only 5,000 acres. The report of the Tariff Board has been so framed as to avoid, if possible, a repetition of the fiasco experienced under the 1907 legislation.

Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE.I have very little more to say. During the ten years from 1907 to 1917 the Commonwealth paid a bounty on flax, but during the whole of that time the only bounty claimed was £2,361 on flax and hemp, and the magnificent sum of £15 on linseed. At that time the cost of production was ever so much lower than it is to-day. I have shown that the industry has declined in Kenya Colony with coloured labour, and in New

Zealand, where the conditions are more favorable than they are in Australia. The Tariff Board, to which the matter of this bounty has been referred, and which is animated by a desire to act in conformity with our protection policy, has recommended the payment of a bounty with a condition attached to it as to the quantity to be produced. On page 17 of the report of the board, honorable senators will see set out in detail the limitations insisted upon. I think it must be obvious, after the trial given to the industry, that if we are to continue paying a bounty there must be some demonstration on the part of those who propose to produce these articles that they will do so in sufficient quantities to make it worth while trying to establish . the industry. Otherwise, we shall have a repetition of our experience between 1907 and 1918.

Senator Guthrie - If there is no claim for a bounty, nothing will be paid.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE. But why load up the statute-book with useless legislation?

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