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Friday, 3 August 1906

Mr BROWN (Canobolas) .- I am pleased t'hat the Government have taken action in this direction. There are a number of agricultural and other industries which, for lack of knowledge and encouragement, have not been taken up as they should have been; but the bounty system will do something to provide the incentive necessary to promote their growth. Great difficulty and inconvenience is experienced in establishing a new industry. In my own district some years ago an effort was made to promote the growth of oil plants, and notably the castor oil tree. Farmers there were loth, however, to enter upon the industry. It was entirely new to them ; the machinerynecessary for the extraction of the oil was not at hand, and although those who interested themselves in the movement claimed that the district was well suited for the * growth of such products, the effort failed. By means of bounties, some of these initial difficulties might be overcome, and the avenues of production largely widened. T know that some honorable members are anxious to assist these industries, but would prefer to do so by means of Customs duties. Our experience of that system of encouragement is. however, that as a rule the advantage is derived by the wrong man, and does not go to the' actual producer. Under the bounty system we can take care that the man who does the pioneer work in these industries shall receive a direct benefit. The position in regard to the production of sugar by white labour is an illustration of what can be done. Had assistance been given to that industry only through the medium of Customs duties, a number of those now reaping the advantage of the bounty system would not have received anything like the same encouragement. In the granting of bounties we should not confine our attention to the encouragement of new forms of production ; we ought to look to some of those which promise to be material factors in our wealth production. Owing to lack of knowledge, great difficul tv has been experienced by our wheat growers. In certain districts unsuitable seed has been sown, with the result that those districts have been declared unfitted for wheat cultivation ; but happily, as the result of the establishment of experimental farms, these blunders are now being obviated. Seed wheat, suitable for sowing in the dry districts of the interior, has been obtained, and the farmers have secured good returns from crops grown in districts where their efforts were at one time fruitless. It would be wise for the Minister to give some encouragement to those who conduct experiments with the object of improving our wheat production. I have known for some years the gentleman mentioned by the honorable member for Darling, and am aware that he has devoted much of his time to the production of wheat suitable for the drier parts of the interior, working with another gentleman - the late Mr. Ferrier - who at one time received official recognition. Such experiments ought to be encouraged. The development of rust-resistant wheats, and of wheats suitable for the drier districts of Australia, and for milling and food purposes, ought to be promoted by every means in our power. These are matters that mightwell receive the attention of the Minister now that he is distributing his favours in the shape of bounties. Any one who does useful work on the lines I have indicate is a public benefactor, and should receive some official recognition and encouragement. The production of cotton is to be encouraged under this Bill. Some experiments have been made in the growing of cotton in New South Wales ; hut so far as I am aware, nothing has been done there to make it a marketable com.modity. Two or three years ego a gentleman planted1 some small experimental plots at Parkes, and assured me that he obtained excellent results. From the samples which he showed me, I am inclined to think that it is possible to develop the cotton industry there, and to make it a commercial success. The same remark will apply to Queensland, and also, it would seem, to the Northern Territory.. A difficulty is experienced in inducing people to invest their* capital in these new forms of production, but by means of the bounty system, something may be done in that direction. I notice that it is proposed to grant a bounty of¼d. per lb. on sweetened or condensedmilk, and of¾d. per lb. on powdered milk. I fail to see why this distinction should be made. If there is to be a differentiation, it should be in favour of the condensed milk. From inquiries I have made, I know that a considerable amount of capital has been expended on condensed milk works. At present, there is a very large trade in that commodity, and the imports, particularly from Switzerland, are considerable. I am informed, however, that the local manufacturers are unable to place upon the market an article equal to the imported milk.

Mr Harper - They can do so.


Mr BROWN - I am told that they have not succeeded in placing on the market an article that will keep as long and secure as ready a sale as the imported milk. I had the privilege some time ago of visiting a factory, the proprietor of which went to the expense of journeying to the old country, and visiting the Swiss factories in order to procure information that would assist him in his industry. He came to the conclusion that there was a trade secret in relation to the preparation of this commodity, the knowledge of which was limited to a very few producers, and gave them practically a monopoly of the trade.

Mr Mauger - The bulk of that at present distributed in Broken Hill is made in Australia.

Mr BROWN - I do not wish it to be inferred that I consider that condensed milk cannot be made here, but it has been said that those engaged in the local trade have not been able to place on the market a condensed milk equal to the imported article.

Mr Lonsdale - The local article is at times equallygood. but I am informed that there are failures.

Mr BROWN - Quite so. The local manufacturers in some cases are unable to maintain a regular standard, and to produce a milk that will keep as long as the imported article.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Some of their issues are satisfactory, while others are not.

Mr BROWN - That seems to indicate a lack of knowledge.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - A lack of care and cleanliness.

Mr BROWN - I do not think that such a remark would apply to the factory that I visited.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The lack of cleanliness may be the fault, not of the factory, but of the suppliers.

Mr BROWN - There may be something in that contention, but from what I can learn, a great deal of care is being exercised to secure cleanliness. The proper treatment of the cattle and accessories connected with the production of this milk are important factors, but I do not know that in this respect there is a great difference between the imported and the local article.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Some of the imported goods are lacking in that respect.

Mr BROWN - I was informed by the manufacturer to whom I have referred that he had arrived at the conclusion that there was a secret method of preparation which he was unable to ascertain. He says that he went to great trouble, and incurred much expense in inquiring into the question, and endeavoured, without avail, to secure from Europe the services of a competent man to take charge of his factory. If that be so, in view of the large consumption of condensed milk, I think that the Minister would be well advised if he granted a bountythat would assist our manufacturers to discover where the fault lies, and to enable them to place upon the market an article which is as good both in its keeping qualities-

Mr Lonsdale - Or secure the services of an expert to teach them.

Mr BROWN - That might remove the difficulty, but I know that there are engaged in this industry dairymen who have expended much money in trying to solve it. They should receive some encouragement. I would commend this view to the Minister. The possibility of developing the fishing industry has already been referred to, and some consideration is to be given to it. There is another matter to which I wish to allude, and that is the need to develop forestry. That may seem a far-fetched idea; but it is a fact that the destruction of trees has been carried on to such an extent in New South Wales, and, I think, in the other States too, that we are within a measureable distance of the time when we shall have great difficulty in obtaining timber for our local requirements. In the electoral division which I represent, country which was originally heavily forested, has beenĀ« ruthlessly cleared, with a view to improving it' for pastoral purposes. The district was recently swept by bush fires, and as a result, fences, originally erected at comparatively small cost, because of the accessibility of timber, were destroyed, while it is now being found very expensive to replace them, because of the comparative- scarcity of timber. Encouragement should be given to the growing of timber trees. Some landholders have already recognised the increasing need for timber, and are making plantations; but it is found difficult to obtain young trees. Good work in producing stock for this purpose might be done by the subsidizing of nurseries. I do not see anything in the Bill, to which to take much exception. The Minister, in order that the benefits to be given shall not go wholly to the employers, but shall be shared by the employes in the industries which are to be encouraged, has provided that reasonable rates of wages shall be paid. I wish to point out, however, that there is a tendency, when industries are protected by Customs duties, or fostered by the payment of bounties, for them to become parasitical in their nature, because those interested in them are never willing to give up the advantages which they are obtaining at the expense of the community, and' urge the continuance of these benefits as essential to the existence of their enterprises. I foresaw that trouble of this kind would arise in connexion with the sugar bounties. We were told when the bounty was first proposed that, after a certain number of years, the industry would be carried on with white labour without needing further assistance. But we have since found that those connected with the industry are not disposed to forego the bounty, and it seems to me that the only way in which its extinction can be pro- vided for is by the introduction of a sliding scale, whereby the rate of bounty will gradually be reduced until it vanishes altogether. I think that a sliding scale should certainly be provided for in the Bill. In Committee, I shall do what I can to make the measure as perfect as possible. I trust that the Government willi shortly establish an Agricultural Department to assist the development which theBill is designed to encourage. Such a. Department need not clash with, or be a. duplicate of, the Agricultural Departmentsof the States, but, as a central bureau, may give much assistance to the States Departments.

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