The Burden of Proof lies with Government and the Industry
Whenever members of the community raise questions concerning the future of the sugar industry and the plantation system both the Government and the sugar estates adopt postures which are generally interpreted as aggressive – they challenge questioners to provide practical and detailed answers to their own questions. I think it is necessary for us to expose the sham of these postures as they are nothing more than red herrings (“from across the waters”) which are designed to confuse and confound the public.
The first implication of their attitude is that the burden of proof as to the practicability and feasibility of any ideas on this subject lies on the heads of those who make them. Let it be clearly known, loudly, strongly and unambiguously that this responsibility is primarily a governmental one. It is they with their vast administrative and research facilities, their access to information (more often secret than not) on whom the burden of testing ideas lies. It is nothing but arrogant nonsense and a device aimed at resisting change to charge the responsibility to the individual citizen or to individual groups- particularly when both the government and the sugar estates make a virtue out of the secrecy of statistical information which they may have.
The second implication of their attitude is that before the issue of diversification can be decided it is necessary to have concrete details of the diversification programme. I could not agree with this more completely. But one must also recognise two concomitant points. First, is that these precise details (as I said before) can only follow on a programme of governmental evaluation. The other, and this is related to the sugar boys in particular, is that if one must justify the case for every acre of land subject to a diversification programme-then similarly they must justify the case for every acre of land they bring under sugar. Yet, let it be noted this has not occurred and since the end of the Second World the acreage of land under sugar cane has more than trebled with hardly a murmur on the question of alternatives. Now that the sugar industry finds that they have reached the extensive limits of their land frontier they come to us in all “innocence” on the question of alternatives.
Thus tonight when I speak on the question of sugar and alternatives it must be clearly recognised that I am not on the defensive but I am in fact throwing down a challenge to both the sugar and governmental interests on the questions of land use and the burdens of the sugar industry on the rest of the community posed by its present shape, form size, and location.