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Friday, 24 August 1906

Mr BATCHELOR (Boothby) . - I presume that the administration of the bounties will be intrusted to the Customs officials, but, so far as I know, there are no agricultural experts in that Department. I think that we should be informed as to whether the Government have any detailed scheme with regard to the distribution of the bounties. It is a very simple matter to ask honorable members to vote £50,000 per annum, but I think that we should satisfy ourselves that the taxpayers' money will be expended in such a way as to confer benefit upon the community, and particularly upon those engaged in the actual production of the articles specified in the Schedule. The Minister of Trade and Customs will be well advised if he withdraws his amendment. We should know the maximum amount to be spent in any one year. If there is any necessity for an additional vote, the Minister can always fall back upon the Estimates. I quite agree with the honorable member for North Sydney that if ,£150,000' or £200,000 were spent in any one year, we should probably have to continue to pay the bounties upon the same scale. I dare say that in regard to most of the articles mentioned in the schedule, a ten-year bounty period- would be suitable, but, in the case of olive oil, the whole of the bounty would be claimed by those who now have plantations, and are producing oil. No one else could make any claim, because ten years would elapse before oil could be produced from new plantations.

Mr Lonsdale - If the industry is a success, why should we grant a bounty?

Mr BATCHELOR - What has that to do with the question? If the honorable member had paid the slightest attention to my remarks, he would not have made such an absurd interjection. I was pointing out the impossibility - in the case of olive oil - of benefiting, by the payment of a bounty, any persons save those who are at present engaged in its production. This Bill will not induce the planting df a single tree unless iti be in the hope that Parliament will continue the bounty. I would further point out that we can very easily waste a lot of money under a measure of this kind. Even in Victoria, where the growers had the benefit of expert knowledge, and where the

Bounties Bill.[RE PRE SENTATIVES.] Bounties Bill.

Government expended some £70,000 upon the Maffra beet sugar plantation, I understand that the experiment was a failure. That illustration shows how necessary it is for us to be extremely careful, and to confine the schedule of the Bill to commodities the production of which is almost .certain to be attended with success. I understand that the Minister who is at present in charge of the Bill has given a good deal of consideration to this matter. I shall be glad to bear what he has to say upon it.

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