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Wednesday, 13 December 1905

Debate resumed from 10th November (vide page 4969), on motion by Sir William Lyne -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Mr. JOSEPHCOOK (Parramatta).Bills follow each other in such rapid succession that one does not quite know where one is. Certainly we are afforded no opportunity for thinking over the proposals submitted for our consideration, or of preparing to discuss them. Consequently, I intend to occupy only a very few minutes in dealing with this important matter - important in that it affects one State profoundly and vitally ; important in that it will touch every consumer in Australia; and important from the stand-point of the racial considerations which it involves. It is evident that the sooner the House gets into recess the better. Honorable members do not seem able to pay the slightest attention even to the most important legislative proposals. I protest against the way in which the work of the country is being scamped by the Government. Bills axe being hurried through without the slightest regard to their effect upon the welfare of Australia. This measure is introduced for the purpose of extending the sugar bounty for a further term of five years, at its present full rate. I say its "present full rate." because the increase of the excise and of the bounty makes no relative difference in the situation as it exists to-day, except that it materially and detrimentally affects the large amount of sugar which is produced by coloured labour. Before we agree to extend the period during which the bounty shall be operative, we have a right to ask ourselves how it has worked during the past five years. Unless it can be shown that the payment of the bounty is bringing about a steady diminution in the employment of black labour in the sugar industry, we have a right to divert all the money which is now expended in that direction, and all that is collected by way of excise, into the Treasury for revenue purposes. We should either do that or we should surrender some portion of the existing duty, and so make sugar cheaper to the consumers of Australia. Therefore, a very simple query suggests itself when we approach this ma tter in the way that we are doing now. We require to keep in mind the fact that when we set out to protect the sugar industry during a period of transition, when we attempted to throw around the sugar-growers of Queensland the aegis which is represented by the Excise duty and the bounty, we did so with the clear and express intention of carrying out the policy of a White Australia.

Mr Fisher - Also the sugar-growers of New South Wales.

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