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Tuesday, 19 December 1905


Mr CONROY (Werriwa) - As far as they go, I approve of the amendments of the Senate. To my mind, the other Chamber has minimized the evils of a very bad Bill. It has extended the period during which the bounty shall be operative from 1907 to 191 1. During that term, even upon the calculations of the present year, this ' legislation will involve the Commonwealth in an actual expenditure of ^600,000, in addition to taxation to the extent of ^900,000, not one penny of which will find its way into the Treasury. This sum of money is to be paid to insure that some of the richest lands in Australia shall be kept under cultivation. To achieve the desired results, this taxation must be levied upon the poorer lands, and thus we are called upon to sanction the extraordinary anomaly of the occupants, of the poorer lands contributing to the support of those who are in. possession of the richest lands. In the first place, we gave the sugargrowers a protection of £6 per ton. Then Parliament, in its need for revenue, declared that it would take back ^4 per ton by way of Excise.


Mr Watson - The need for revenue was never advanced as a reason for our action.


Mr CONROY - It was advanced in the first Parliament. Then we agreed to return a further sum of per ton to planters who employed white labour exclusively. That money could not be returned by way of rebate, and, consequently, it was refunded by way of bounty. The system which has been followed has been most injurious to Australia, because it has been absolutely forgotten that sugar is the raw material of hundreds of industries throughput the Commonwealth.


Mr Fisher - We cannot deal with the matter this session.


Mr CONROY - I am quite aware of that. In conclusion I should like to refer to one extraordinary statement which was made bv the Minister of Trade and Customs. He said that we cannot foresee what will take place in connexion with, the sugar industry, and, therefore, we ought to legislate as soon as possible. A more extraordinary reason for introducing uncertain legislation I have never heard. I predict that the difficulties created by this legislation will be made manifest to everybody during the next two or three years.







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