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Wednesday, 13 December 1905

Mr CONROY (Werriwa) - I think that the honorable member for Wide Bay has quite overlooked the fact that we started by proposing a protective duty of £6 per ton on sugar. At that time Queensland was over-supplied, and the records show that the imposition of the duty led immediately to an increase in the price of sugar grown in that State. That increased price had to be borne by some one, and it is clear that the only persons who could pay it were the white people living in the other States. This system has continued for some years. Because we confused the question with that of the employment of black labour, we made the mistake of deciding to pay a bounty to white growers of sugar, and so to offer an inducement to persons unsuited for the work to enter into competition with the alien races who were already engaged in the industry. I should have thought that the House would recognise that it is a bad policy to induce white people to enter an industry which experience has shown can be more fitly carried on by black labour. I refer more particularly to the experience of the United States. Mr. Hamilton, who was at the time one of the great apostles of protection in America, pointed out that a country could not enter into a policy more foolish than is that of seeking to persuade its white inhabitants to take up an industry which flourishes only under the poorest conditions of labour.

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