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Friday, 24 August 1906

Mr SPENCE (Darling) .- Unnecessary difficulties are being raised h> the consideration of this Bill, and I think that the answer to most of the objections we have heard is self-evident. The Government propose to encourage the establishment of new industries by means of the bounty system, and the Minister in charge of the Bill has to deal only with a question of fact. Wheo a claim is made for payment of bounty, the Department administering the Act will simply have to decide whether its requirements have beer* complied with. Some honorable members who have been howling about the necessity to study the interests of the States, when, in office, adopted the policy that the Commonwealth should "go mates" with the States. They should remember that the States Departments of Agriculture are already educating the farmers in regard to the raising of new products, and that, so far, no necessity has been shown for this work to be undertaken by the Commonwealth. The suggestion that we should have a Federal 'Bureau is generally approved, but it is not necessary to have such a Department to administer this measure. There should be no more difficulty in paying bounties under this Bill than is experienced in connexion with the working of the Sugar Bounty Act Under that measure, a claimant for the bounty has to prove that his sugar has been grown by white labour. No difficulty has arisen ii> carrying out that Act, although a special Department was not created to give effect to it, and it seems to me that there will be no difficulty in administering this Bill.

Mr McLean - The honorable member has not given much consideration to the question.

Mr SPENCE - I think that I have given it as much consideration as the honorable _ member has done. His experiments in this direction as a member of the Victorian Parliament were not altogether satisfactory.

Mr Tudor - The expenditure, for instance, of £100,000 of Government funds on the Maffra! beet sugar works.

Mr McLean - No bonus was given, but a loan was made to the company.

Mr SPENCE - The experience of the Commonwealth in regard to the bounty system has so far been satisfactory. I agree with the honorable member for Echuca that certain steps may have to be taken, and that we ought to have some information relative to the question of whether or not some of the industries in respect to which the bounty is to be given are not already established. I believe that, in South Australia, the production of olive oil has been for some years a well-establishd industry, and that the Sydney market is largely supplied from that source. The payment of a bounty in respect of an industry that is sufficiently established could not be justified; bounties should be given only to pioneering industries. I repeat that there should be no difficulty in devising the machinery to carry out this system, and that we ought not to agree to the Commonwealth handing over the works to the States. Why should we hand over to any State Department the .payment of Federal bounties ? The final decision' in these matters must rest with the Commonwealth Government. Responsible government must be maintained, and the power of the purse vested in those who represent the electors. The granting of bounties is a means of encouraging private enterprise to enter into new industries by indemnifying it to some extent against losses sustained in pioneering work. I think we might have some information as to whether there are now in existence industries which could well be fostered by the granting of bounties to them. So far as the tapering off of the bounties is concerned, that, it seems to me, will come about when industries have been successful lv encouraged by the multiplication of the number of claimants, making the amount available to each continually less and less. T should not grudge the giving of assistance to pioneer industries already in existence. Some time ago I visited an olive yard in South Australia, of an area of 60 acres, where I was told oil of excellent quality is produced at profitable prices. I do not know what the total area under olives in the Commonwealth is, but it seems to me that the olive oil industry is a pioneer one, deserving encouragement. No doubt the Minister of Trade and Customs will co-operate with the Departments of the States in administering this measure, while keeping the control of payments entirely in his own hands.

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