Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 24 August 1906

Mr POYNTON (Grey) .- Do I understand that the proposition before the Committee is one to increase the total amount of the bounties payable under this clause from £50,000 to ,£500,000?


Mr POYNTON - Who submitted . that proposal ?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister of Trade and Customs.

Mr POYNTON - The proposal embodied in the Bill is for the payment of ^50,000 a year for a period of ten years..

Mr Ewing - The Minister of Trade and Customs has moved to set aside ^500,000 for the payment of bounties during that period.

Mr Watson - We cannot risk the finances iri that way.

Mr POYNTON - It seems to be a growing practice for a Minister to throw a Bill upon the table, and to leave honorable members to worry it in the absence of proper information.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That has been the practice for two years. Is the honorable member only just, waking up to it?

Mr Watson - I knew a Ministry which did it ten years, ago. ,

Mr POYNTON - The practice has been very much in evidence during the cli rrent session, and, although I do not hold the Opposition entirely responsible for it, I do not regard them as absolutely blameless. It is well known that whilst their leader and his principal henchman are galivanting about the country there is a great temptation to the Government to look after their own interests. The practice, however, is a very reprehensible one. When this Bill was introduced it was known that many honorable members entertained strong objection to it, because thev feared that the bounties would not benefit those whom the measure was intended to assist. Whilst the Minister of Trade and Customs was making his second-reading speech he was met with a shower of interjections in that connexion. He then intimated that some provision would be made to overcome the difficulty. To-day we have the announcement - without amy explanation whatever - that it is proposed to increase the amount of the bounties to ,£500,000.

Mr Ewing - The gross amount is not to be increased.

Mr Deakin - Oh, no.

Mr McColl - I presume that there will be consequential amendments introduced by the Government.

Mr Deakin - Oh, yes. The position will Le made perfectly clear.

Mr POYNTON - It ought to be made absolutely clear. I am aware that the honorable member for Echuca has given notice of an .amendment with a view to regulating the payment of these bounties.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I call attention to the absence of a quorum. It seems to me that the argument of the honorable member for Grey ought to be heard by his colleagues. [Quorum formed.]

Mr POYNTON - The inquiry conducted bv the Butter Commission in Victoria conclusively proved that only a very small percentage of the butter bonus actually found its way into the pockets of the primary producers. Under this Bill we have .no guarantee that that section of the community will receive a single penny of the bounties. The Minister led the House to believe that in Committee he would make provision for protecting the interests of the primary producer.

Mr Ewing - That will be done.

Mr POYNTON - It has not been done yet. Take the olive oil industry. I understand that the price paid for i cwt. of olives is 6s. But it does not follow that every grower of olives manufactures his own oil. The cost of picking i cwt. of olives is 2s. 6d., but the oil which can be extracted from them - about 2 gallons - is worth 1 6s. Unless some radical alteration be made in the Bill the manufacturer of the oil will get every penny of the bounty. I prefer the bounty system to the imposition of Customs- duties, since under it we are able to ascertain exactly what we are paying to encourage any industry, and may limit the period during which the payments shall be made; but we ought to be careful that the primary producer shall secure that proportion of the benefit to which he is entitled. I do not think that under this Bill the man who .grows coffee beans, will receive any part of the bounty to be given for the production of coffee, nor do I know whether the grower of cotton will receive any proportion of the cotton bounty.

Mr Ewing - The honorable member for Echuca has given notice of an amendment to meet that objection, and we might perhaps put it into an acceptable form.

Mr POYNTON - I have already referred to that amendment. Mv complaint is that no member of the Ministry has vet explained how many of the objections raised during the second-reading debate are to be met. I trust, however, that the

Minister now in charge of the Bill will explain the intentions, of the Government. I am satisfied that the desire of the Committee is that the bounties shall go to the primary producers.

Mr Ewing - Any proposal in that direction will be favorably received.

Mr POYNTON - We do not desire a repetition of the experience of Victoria in regard to the butter bounty. Our desire is that the primary producers shall at all events derive some of the advantages of the bounty system. The Minister of Trade and Customs said that they would be benefited by receiving an increased price, for their products, but we know that that was not the experience of the farmers of Victoria under the butter bonus system. I do not think it is the intention of the Committee 'that the primary producers shall be at the mercy of the buyers of their products. We shall, however, have another opportunity to deal with that phase of the question when the amendment foreshadowed by the honorable member for Echuca is submitted.

Suggest corrections