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Thursday, 2 August 1906
Page: 2292

Mr HUGHES (West Sydney) . - I do not know the opinion of honorable members, but, holding the fiscal views that I do, I think that we ought to accord to the right honorable gentleman some small measure of thanks for his candid and plain declaration of his intentions with regard to this Bill. On the' other hand, one can only regret that, since he has apparently benefited so materially by his tour through Queensland, he' has failed to give us the advantage of that knowledge which, through the daily press, he assured the people in all parts of that great State he was every day acquiring. The right honorable gentleman, when told during his tour through the northern part of Queensland, that cotton was growing in one place, rice in another, and coffee and sugar in others - and we want the right honorable gentleman's own word that he actually saw sugar growing in Queensland - was simply amazed, and told the people that he was learning something every day. That being so, it is a matter for legitimate complaint that in this, the bounden duty of the right honorable gentleman, he has failed to impart to us some of the knowledge so gained by him. We have not been away - - we have not been learning something every day. I have never seen cocoa or coffee growing - I have never even seen a rice-field. The right honorable gentleman, on his return to the House, should have dealt with these industries one by one. He ought to have been able to say, " When I was on the Johnson River, or the Cloncurry, I saw cocoa growing, and was approached by an old and respectable resident, who told me that if he secured a bounty of Jd. or id. or 3s. per lb. he would be able to grow enough cocoa to satisfy the wants of all Australia." But the honorable gentleman comes back, and runs the whole gamut of the Bill - from cocoa to the unmentionable pandanus - without telling us anything that he has ' learned with regard to these industries. The honorable member for Moira admitted that he knows nothing about the production of tinned fish, though he seemed to know something about other matters dealt with by the Bill ; but the right honorable mem ber for East Sydney appeared to be totally ignorant about all of them. He sees, however, one good thing in the measure, because he thinks that it will encourage agriculture and primary industries; but, although he has been up north, and deputation after deputation of enthusiastic, though misguided people, has waited upon him, to inform him of the resources of this great country, and has been received with that genial smile which I am "happy to see that he has brought back with him, it is but too obvious that he has learnt nothing, and has returned practically as dry as a squeezed sponge. I thank him for solving for me the question how a free-trader should vote on the Bill. As I said the other evening, I shall follow my illustrious fiscal leader to the end. I do not know where he will lead me. So far as he has gone, I see little difference between the position of those with whom I now find myself temporarily « associated, and the members of the party to which he belongs, though, of course, one cannot say where he will be in the future.

Mr Reid - The honorable and learned member will know that after the elections.

Mr HUGHES - If the right honorable gentleman has his way, there will be no " after" for me. He is the leader of a great party, and visited Queensland to make himself acquainted with the resources of that State - which he says, doubtless correctly, that every honorable member should do - but he is, nevertheless, unable to furnish one good and sufficient reason for supporting the Bill. Of course, he has political reasons ; but I speak of reasons such as he would care to make known to his friends. My position does not call upon me to furnish such reasons. I do not ' belong to a great party round whose standard every respectable person in Australia is being asked to rally.

Mr Reid - I have never talked in that w.a,v ; I have never drawn the line of social distinction.

Mr HUGHES - The party to which I belong has not been consulted bv the Minister in regard to these proposals. Some of the bounties deal with productions of which I had never heard until the honorable member for North Sydney spoke this evening. However, they have my cordial approval, since there must be some reason for their inclusion, seeing that the Minister of Trade and Customs has given us his assurance to that effect in the pamphlet to which the leader of the Opposition has taken exception, but which appears to have much to recommend it, in addition to the imprint of Mr. Kemp at the foot, while the right honorable gentleman also says that there is a great deal to be advanced in their favour. By way of general criticism, I might say that, although I know very little about fish, except through eating it, I think that if there is one industry more than another which might well be encouraged by the bestowal of a bounty, it is the fishing industry. But the proposal to pay a bounty not exceeding £1,000 a year with this object is absurd.

Mr Deakin - The payments are to amount to £11,000 ayear. There is a printer's error in the Bill.

Mr HUGHES - I am glad to find that even Mr. Kemp is an authority whom one can criticise with some degree of hopefulness. Whatever may be said for the proposal to encourage tinned and canned fish, it appears to me in the highest degree desirable to encourage the building of a fishing fleet, and to provide for the subsidizing of, or the acquisition of, a trawler for experimental purposes. Mr. Farnell, an expert in regard to the fisheries of New South Wales, or, at any rate, a gentleman who has had opportunities for making himself acquainted with the subject which others have not enjoyed, has declared that the possibilities of trawling on our coasts have not been thoroughly exploited. What has first to be done, therefore, is to discover suitable trawling grounds.

Mr Reid - No bounty is offered to encourage trawling.

Sir William Lyne - There is to be an amount on the Estimates - £8,000.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Government are going to build and own a trawler.

Mr HUGHES - I shall be perfectly satisfied so long as the industry is properly encouraged. With regard to the proposed bounty for the production of condensed and powdered milk, I say that1/4d. per lb. will not be sufficient to induce farmers to cart milk four or five miles to a factory where it will be made into sweetened or powdered milk, when, by selling cream, they can get an equal profit. At Pitt Town, in New South Wales, there is a factory where condensed milk is made, but only 41/4d. or 41/2d. per gallon, is given for the milk taken there, whereas in Sydney fresh milk brings from 6d. to 61/2d. per gallon. Farmers will not send their milk to condensed milk factories when they can, withone-tenth of the labour involved in cartage, get as much from the butter factory, unlesstheyare paid a greater bounty than1/4d. per lb. In my opinion, the payment of bounties amounting annually to £5,000 for the production of condensed milk, and to the same amount for the production of powdered milk,, will be inadequate for the encouragement of the industry, and, if the Minister will not recognise the advisableness of increasing the bounty, I shall in Committee propose a higher rate. There is at present a good market for all the cream that can be produced, and the farmers will not sell their milk to be used for any other purpose than the making of butter, unless they can get more by doing so.

Sir William Lyne - We import nearly £200,000 worth of condensed milk per annum.

Mr HUGHES - That does not matter to the farmer, so long as he can sell his own milk and cream. He will not take it an additional five or six miles for another 1/4d. per lb. It must be remembered, too, that the bounty will have to be apportioned between the farmer and the manufacturer of condensed or powdered milk. On the whole, the Bill is a desirable one; and therefore I shall vote for the second reading.

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