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Wednesday, 13 December 1905

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I intend to support the amendment, and, in doing so, feel that my vote will be perfectly consistent with the two that I have already given on this Bill. I supported the second reading against my fiscal convictions, looked at from an abstract point of view, but I did so because I recognised that the House has affirmed the principle of a White Australia, and had attempted, for a period of five years to compensate the sugar-growers for the disadvantage at which that policy has placed them. I was also induced to vote for the second reading, because I anticipated that the Committee would affirm the principle of a slidingscale of payments. Had that course been adopted, the bounty would have been paid at the full rate for two years, after the expiration of the period fixed by the present Act; then it would have gradually tapered off and terminated. Finality, would thus have been reached. The Government are now taking a course which is most undesirable; because it has been recognised both by the House and by Dr. Maxwell that the uncertainty in the minds of the sugar-growers as to. whether or not the bounty will be renewed is causing a great many of them to retain their hold on black labour, and to prevent it leaving the country. The adoption of a sliding scale would have been a clear indication of the intentions of the Parliament.

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable and learned member cannot now discuss the question of the sliding scale.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I submit, sir, that I am entitled to refer to it in order to show that the vote which I propose to give will be perfectly consistent with the others that I have cast. The adoption of a sliding scale would have 'been an intimation to the sugar-growers that the bounty would begin to taper off two years after the term fixed by the existing Act. I am not prepared to vote for the continuance of the bounty for a further period of five years in such a way as to lead the sugar-growers of Queensland to believe that all they will have to do at the expiration of that time is to seek another five years' extension from this House. We are giving them no indication that the system is to come to an end. We could have done so by providing that the bounty, after a certain period, shall gradually taper off, until it finally disappears. I shall vote for the amendment, believing that, if carried, it will be a sufficient intimation to the sugar-growers, of

Queensland that some definite limit to the continuance of this artificial support is to be decreed by the Federal Parliament.

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