9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chairat 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Orderof the day for the consideration of a motion inthe name of Mr. Jackson, proposing financial assistance for Tasmania, discharged fromthe paper.
Mr.CORSER- I ask the Ministerfor Trade andCustoms ifhe has seen in the Brisbane Courier, of the17th September, that the banana plantations in Fiji, it is stated, are being attacked by diseases, the worst of which, the sigatoka disease,is far more serious thanbunchy-top. It is said that the diseases are, in some way, related to the noted Panama disease, and that the sigatoka disease is rapidlyspreading inFiji. If so,will the honorable gentlemancause the necessarysteps tobe taken to prevent the diseasebeing brought to theCommonwealth ?
– I have not noticed thereport referred to,but I shallhave the matter investigated for the information of the honorable member, and shall answer his question as early as possible.
Statement bythe Prime Minister.
– I ask the Treasurer whether he has seen the statement made by the Prime Minister on Saturday that there is a new party in politics which levies a species of political blackmail. Has thehonorable gentlemanany knowledge of the existence of such a party ?
– Iread a report of the statement mentioned, and I thought the referencewasnot to any partyonthis sideof the House, but to another party on the opposition sideof the House.
– Now that the PostmasterGeneral has returned from his trip abroad, I askhim whether he is in favourof penny postage, and, if so, when itwill be brought into force.
Mr.GIBSON. -I am not in favour of penny postage. By the reduction of½d.in postage rates, we lost £800,000 lastyear, and we should loseanother £800000 by a further reduction of½d., and as a result it is probable that many country mail services would suffer.
-I understood the Prime Minister to sayin replyto a questionI asked last week respecting a conference tobeheld in England, about whichtheSecretary of State forthe Colonies has communicated with him, that theGovernment is not in favour of such a conference, as Ministers do not know what useful purpose it could serve. I have sinceread in the press a paragraph to the effect thatthe Government has expressed an opinion in favour of the holding of the conference, and has, at some time or other, notified the Secretary of State for the Colonies of its willingness tobe represented should a conference be held. I askwhether we are to take the right honorable -gentleman’s reply tomy question on the subject as indicating the final decision of theGovernment in regard to this matter.
– The right honorable gentleman has not had an opportunityto acquaint himself of the whole of thenegotiations in thismatter,and the statementsconcerning it thathave been made in this House. The CommonwealthGovernment has intimated that it is not in f avour of the proposed conference, and does not think that any good purpose can be servedby holding it.Subsequent to that intimation being conveyed to the BritishGovernment, therepresentation was made to us that other dominions had expressed theirapproval of the holding of the conference, and some two or three weeks oreven longer ago, 1 informed the’ BritishGovernment that while mot desirous that the conference should beheld, andstillofthe opinion thatno goodresultcould come from it, this Government would, if it were held, arrange for the representation of Australia at it.
-Has the Prime Minister delegated the honorable member f or Wentworth (Mr. Marks) anypower to speak on behalf oftheCommonwealth in regard to navalmatters andto advise theBritish Admiralty as to how it should carry out navaloperations?
Mr.BRUCE. -Thehonorable member for Wentworth haspower to speak for theCommonwealthGovernment, and is carryingoutno official duties while he is abroad.
Rescue of WhiteWomen.
Mr.FENTON.-As it is generally understood that the wet season will start early this year in the Northern Territory, where it is alleged that two unfortunate women are held captive by the blacks, will the Governmentbe prepared to accept any legitimate organized offer on the part ofresidents inthe locality to push on with the search for the women before the wet seasonsets in when, I understand, itwouldbe impossible to carry out rescue work?
-I have already intimated that the Government is quite prepared to consider any suggestion that may be made to facilitate in any waythe work ofascertainingwhether these unfortunate women are in thehands of the blacks, or that may lead to their rescue. I now repeat that” any useful suggestion submitted to the Government will be given the fullest consideration and will be acted upon if considered likely to achieve the result desired.
– As the Prime Minister has taken charge of the Dairy Produce Export Control Bill, I ask him whether he has received a large number of protests against the passage of the measure from co-operative butter factories?
– Certain representations have been made by some co-operative factories. When the Bill is again before honorable members I shall be delighted to give the honorable gentleman all the information I have with regard to them.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs if he is yet in a position to make a statement concerning the negotiations proceeding between the Commonwealth Government and the Governments of Canada and New Zealand on the question of preference to Australian products, and, in particular, dried fruits. If the honorable gentleman is not in a position to make a statement on the subject, will he say when he expects to be able to do so?
– Negotiations are still actively proceeding. Recently the case took a slight turn for the better; but no arrangement has yet been definitely arrived at with the two dominions.
S.S. “John Aloe” and “ Huddersfield.”
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - .
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice - 1.Whether he has seen a report circulated in South Australia on 18th September, 1924, which states that a person was offered a charter of the ship Huddersfield for £160 per month, after the auxiliary engines had been installed?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Douglas Mawson involves no special payment for the voyage to and from the expedition base, as that voyage is being carried out under the provisions of the Northern Territory coastal shipping service agreement. During such time, however, as the vessel is required to stand by whilst the search proceeds on the mainland, the Government is subject to a charge of £20 per day. This charge covers also the use of the auxiliary schooner Pat, and a large launch. “
– On the 4th September, the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) asked the following question : -
Inquiries made show that Metal Manufactures Limited, Port Kembla, is paying its employees award rates of wages.
Thefollowing papers were presented : -
Audit Act. - Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Coun- cil- financial year 1923-24: Dated 17th September, 1924.
International Labour Organization of the League of Nations - Sixth conference held at Geneva, 16th June to 5th July, 1924- Reports by Australian Delegate’s.
Papua Act- Ordinance of 1924 - No. 3- Post and Telegraph.
Public Service Act - Appointments of R. G. Casey and W. Henderson, Prime Minister’s Department.
Debate resumed from19th September, 1924 (vide page 4579), on motion by Mr. Bruce -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– When the House adjourned onFriday last I was discussing the manner in which the output of butter could be increased so that the dairying industry might be more profitable to those engaged in it. Most people who know anything of this industry realize that many have made a success of it. That success has been possible because they have obtained their land at reasonable prices, and have had sufficient capital to install good working plants and purchase first-class herds; while their land has been cleared and well laid down with grasses.
– They have been successful only because of the help of the members of their own family, who have not been paid.
– We should not judge an industry by the record of one or two years only. A number of dairymen have for many years conducted their industry on a profitable basis. I realize that from time to time assistance has been granted to farmers and others on the land, not only by this Parliament, but by the Parliaments of the states. We on this side have not hesitated to record votes for the amelioration of the conditions of the primary producers. We recognize that dairymen to-day are experiencing very difficult times, and that it is necessary to grant them some assistance. In considering what the nature of that assistance should be, we should have in view the permanent good of the dairying industry.
– Is not the present unsatisfactory state of affairs due more to the high cost of production than to the low price of butter?
-In speaking of the high cost of production, the honorable member may refer only to high wages, or he may have in mind the high cost of machinery and implements. Personally, I think that the present trouble is largely due to the excessive prices paid for the land in many instances.
– Land, like other things, has a fictitious value to-day.
-In considering the cost of production we must have regard not only to the cost of labour and of machinery, but also to the price paid for land, cattle, and other things. We know that exorbitant prices were paid for the land and the cattle purchased for many of our returned soldiers. For that reason many of these men are in difficulties to-day. Unless this bill is considerably altered in committee, it will not be of benefit to the dairymen. Of what use will an Australian committee, or a London committee, be? The dairying industry has been represented in Londonfor a number of years, but very little benefit has resulted from that representation. A great deal may, however, be done in Australia. If returned soldiers and others have been required to pay too much for their land, this Parliament will probably have to reduce the loan indebtedness of the states, and the. states will have to write down the value of their properties. Something of that nature will have to be done. If the competition which is met with in London is to be successfully combated, a capital of between£4,000,000 and £5,000,000 will be required. We sometimes hear talk of Tooley-street, and of the blending of Australian butter with other butters, and even with other materials. Mr. O’Callaghan, ex-chief dairy expert of the Commonwealth, who has just returned from Great Britain, tells us what most of us already knew, that Australian butter is not sold as suchon the British market. He tells us that the only occasion on which our butter has had a fair “ spin “ and been sold’, as Australian butter is during the holding of the Wembley Exhibition.. A, privileged few in Great Britain may consume our butter knowing that it is Australian butter, but by far the greater portion of it isnot sold as Australian butter. An honorable member speaking on Friday last was most indiscreet in. his references to our own produce. We are all apt to make slips, but if there is anything wrong with Australian produce which has to compete with that of other parts of the world, we should take steps to remedy the defect without blazoning it forth to the whole world. In Denmark and other countries those who are doing something which may be injurious to the dairying industry are dealt with in a very drastic fashion if they do not mend their ways, but nothing is broadcast to the advantage of the competitors of those countries. Honorable members should bear in mind that every utterance of theirs condemnatory of Australia’s products is forwarded by interested parties to London, where it is made use of by Australia’s competitors’. Extracts from honorable members’ speeches are very desirable titbits which can be used to the disadvantage of the Australian dairying industry. One honorable member mentioned a defect in Victorian butter. Other honorable members could retaliate by pointing to defects in butter produced in other states ; but that is not the conduct, one would expect in an Australian Parliament. We know that there are defects in our butter, but instead of broadcasting the fact to the world, we should make every endeavour to remedy them. According to Mr. O’Callaghan, 50 per cent. of Australian butter landed in Great Britain goes into the blending shops, and is mixed up with other butters, and even with other materials. The operations of the blender may benefit the dairying industry in some directions, but that he has done a great deal of harm I know as the result of certain investigations I made some years ago. Quite a number of commodities have been added to Australian, butter. The chemist is able to blend butter with other materials, and put up. a very palatable article. However when Australian butter in Great Britaingoes to the blender its iden tity is destroyed. It goes out to the public, not under the brand of one of our first class factories, but. under the brands established by the blending people themselves, or made use of by the multiple shops, or the Maypole Dairy Company.
– It is not then sold as Australian butter?
– No. Except at the Wembley Exhibition, Australian butter has not been sold as such on the London market. Some of the Tooley-street dealers may have taken Australian, butter to their own homes, and a few of their privileged friends, may have consumed our product knowing it to be Australian butter.
– It would be more correct for the honorable member to say that the greater proportion of Australian butter landed in Great Britain is not sold as Australian butter.
– We are told by Mr. O’Callaghan that 50 per cent. of it goes into the blending establishments, where its identity is immediately destroyed, and the honorable member knows that Australian butter has been sold as “ French rolls,” and under other names foreign to Australia.
– We have known that for many years.
– -Yes, it has been known to Australians for at least twenty years. Mr. O’Callaghan puts the position very plainly. He- says- -
No one retails Australian butter to-day; so far as I know, in the name of Australia.
It is bought by the wholesale man, manipulated by him, and then sent out to- the British public. Mr. O’Callaghan also says -
I approached some of the big multiple shop people about the possibility of selling- Australian butter labelled Australian …. They would not entertain the idea.
Mr. O’Callaghan made several suggestions bo different people, but they would not entertain them, because the blenders, who own a large number of retail shops, place their own brands on the butter they sell; not only on that received from Australia, but also on that which comes to London from other, countries. The butters, when mixed with other materials, go out to the British public under the blenders’ brands. The Maypole Dairy Company is’ a company about which Australians heard a great deal some years ago. It is established a few miles from London, and I understand that it has very few cows, yet it is able to dispose cf hundreds, of tons- of butter a week.
– It is the company that produced margarine during the war..
– I am not dealing- with that part of the company’s operations, but no doubt the modern chemist has succeeded in producing- most excellent margarine. I find in a recent issue of the Age, under’ the- heading “’ Trade and Finance,” the following -
Particulars of the fusion of interests between Home and Colonial Stores Limited and Maypole- Dairy Company Limited were received’ by ‘ tha English ‘mail! yesterday. The former company has acquired a substantial interest in the latter. The directors of tho Home and Colonial Stores Limited decided to issue 250,000 ordinary shares of fi at 30s. premium. The company has an authorized capital of £2,400.000, of which £.1,800,000 has been issued in addition te the shares now offered to holders. Branches of its own business and that of allied companies number over 1,000. Maypole Daily Company which also carries on a tea and provision store business, has an. authorized capital of £3,000,000,. of which £2,058,333 has been issued and paid. In the report for 1923 the- directors stated a less satisfactory trading profit, mainly owing to the continued and severe competition and consequent reduced margin of profit obtainable on the specialty goods in which the company is principally interested. The fusion with- the Home- and Colonial Stores Limited will materially reduce this competition. Both companies handle large quantities of butter and cheese from the oversea dominions, and Home and Colonial Stores Limited has been very successful in retailing Australian canned fruits.
These two companies have a capital of £5,500,000 between them. Then there are also the multiple shops, such as Liptons. That illustrates the great difficulty of trying to organize the successful retailing of Australian butter in Great Britain. How are we to compete with the big. combinations that ‘ control the market? Tooley-street is backed by immense power. Some partners in large butterretailing firms- are member’s of the House of Lords. The distributing firms- command immense capital, and they are interested in a number of blending companies which retail their own output. Against such opposition what could be done for the distribution of Australian butter, as- such, by a committee of the kind proposed in the bill ? I shall quote authorities in support of my contention that the only way in which we can successfully market our produce and sell it under an Australian brand is by a strong combination in Australia backed by the Commonwealth Government,, and another big organization in Great Britain backed by the Imperial Government. Some of the firms opposed to us are perhaps a century old, and through the years they have made their finances’ so strong that the proposed London committee would be insignificant and futile. Labour members of the House of Commons, in- discussing, the disposal of Australian- produce in the United Kingdom, emphasized that although they represented the British consumers they did not advocate the importation of the product of cheap labour countries to the detriment of their kith and kin in the overseas- dominions, who paid good wages- and lived under proper conditions. They; said that the British working man- does not want the product of sweated labour, and that if the- middleman were cut out the producers overseas would receive a better price for- their commodities, and the- consumers in Britain would be supplied at a reduced cost. But if half a dozen intermediaries are to make a profit on Australian butter between the factory and the breakfast table, the pro.ducer cannot, possibly receive an adequate price or the- consumer get butter at a reasonable coat.
– The bill aims at cutting out some of the middlemen.
– How will that be done ? The bill is a sham. If the dairymen had adhered to the scheme they first evolved, it would have- had a good fighting chance of acceptance by this Parliament. They propounded1 a fair and square way of dealing with the industry, namely, by fixing the price the producer should receive for his butter in the same way as the price which a man shall receive for his labour is determined.
– Their proposal involved a regulation of interstate trade.
– Yes, and that would have required the consent of the state parliaments; but I am fairly- confident that five of the six parliaments would have agreed’ to such a proposal if the Commonwealth Government had submitted it.
– And if the sixth state held aloof the whole scheme would be ruined.
– New South Wales would surely. Lave done the right thing if the other states were in agreement. I do not think that any state would have stood aloof from the proposal. The Commonwealth Government should have adopted the scheme propounded by the dairymen themselves, because we cannot do anything effective without interstate regulation of the industry.
– The whole scheme could be carried out under my plan.
– The honorable member’s plan is merely a devious way of fixing prices.
– It does not propose the fixation of prices.
– If prices are to be fixed, let it bc done straightforwardly, and the consumers will consent to it. Mr. T. Johnston, Labour member of the House of Commons for the constituency of Stirling and Clackmannan, said, in connexion with the marketing of dominion produce in Great Britain -
The immediate problem, however, was how they were going to deal with the question of British Empire trade. It was true, he thought, that commodities coming in from the British Empire did not get a square deal. He had telephoned that day to the Queensland Government offices, and had asked them at what price the best Queensland meat was being landed in London. They told him it was 3jd. per lb. It was selling at 7d., Od., and lid. per lb. in London, according to the part. If the Socialist Government were only, to set about arranging decent market conditions, secure that meat when it arrived, and abolish the middlemen and suckers who fastened on it, they would be able to give the people of this country cheaper food and better food than iu many cases they_ were getting now, and would be able to give . a better’ price to the Australian producer.
That represents the Labour point of view. I could quote other Labour members who spoke in similar terms but I shall content myself with giving to honorable members the testimony of Mr. Stanley Baldwin, who represents the opposite side in politics. He said -
If for the moment the country will not take certain courses of action, we must try to find others.
The House of Commons had been discussing the proposal for granting preference to the products of overseas dominions, and Mr. Baldwin pointed out that the British people, not the Government or the Parliament, had rejected the scheme. They regarded it as an interference with their fiscal principles, and by an overwhelming majority, at the general election defeated the party which advocated it. In the face of that decision no Government could place preference to dominion products on ite programme. Mr. Baldwin continued -
Is it not possible to enter into some arrangement with the dominions by which the enormous amount of .foodstuffs we require to-day may be obtained solely from them by bringing them into this country at cost price, and distributing them with the least possible margin? Cannot something of this kind be thought out to obtain in exchange for it the free entry of our manufactured goods into those dominions where such goods do not compete with their own.
– Mr. Baldwin has retreated from that position.
– No. Some of the newspapers criticized, his proposal, but so far as I have been able to gather, he has never retracted that declaration, which, combined with the statements of. Labour members of the House of Commons, proves that on both side’s in British politics the same opinion is held as to the best means of improving the market for dominion products. Mr. Baldwin continued -
I do not know whether something of that kind could be done, but if it could it might last for the best part of a- generation, and then the whole situation would have to be reviewed again, when the population of the dominions had filled up more, and they had decided whether they wanted to become more than they are now, a manufacturing country.
The proposal of the honorable member for Gippsland to amend the bill is merely a temporary expedient. In my opinion, the Government should accept the hint dropped by the leaders of the Liberal, Labour and Unionist parties in the House of Commons. The leader of the Tory party there hae declared that, in order to assist the overseas producers, the British Government should bring into being an organization for the purpose of selling dominion produce at practically cost price, thereby lowering the price to the British consumer, and increasing the return to the producer in the dominions. Lord Inchcape, in his telegram to the exPrime Minister of Australia (Mr. W. M. Hughes), referring to the Commonwealth Government Line of Steamers said, “ We cannot compete against a Government.”’ Had the Commonwealth Government
Line of Steamers had only private capital behind it, it would have gone out of existence long ago. Therefore, it is . necessary for the British and Australian Governments to co-operate in order to compete successfully against the produce sellers in London, who are so strongly entrenched financially that the interests of the dairymen of Australia cannot be protected merely by & committee in London and a board in Australia. Whether co-operative action of the kind required is called state socialism, or given another name, it is necessary if the producers’ interests and the interests of the consumers of Great Britain are to be conserved. All honour to the ex-Prime Minister of Great Britain, when, having gone through the trying ordeal of a general election, he stated, as Leader of the Opposition, that a scheme should be evolved whereby all the produce from overseas could be taken in hand by the British Government and disposed of to the mutual advantage of the Australian producer and the British consumer. Every year foodstuffs to the value of £300,000,000 have to be imported by Great Britain. What a splendid thing it would be for the Empire if even half that quantity were handled through such a Government organization.
– Does the honorable member think that this so-called Tory advocated a government organization for the disposal of Australia’s primary produce ?
– Most decidedly. He suggested that it should be sold at cost price, cutting out all the profits of the middleman. The honorable member knows that in the marketing of dairy produce a profit is first made at the butter factory. Next, the private agent in the capital city takes his toll. When the commodity reaches London the producer suffers further because it has to be handled in one of the most antiquated ports in the world. Compared with Hamburg and other modern ports, London is out of date. Then the butter goes to the blender, which means more handling and more middleman’s profit, and eventually it reaches the hands of the retailer. The wonder to me is that the dairyman is able to live at all. This Parliament should endeavour to evolve a scheme, in conjunction with the British authorities, whereby Tooley-street, the butter blender, and the multiple shop proprietor might be defeated and the British consumer, together with the Australian producer, protected. Millions of the people who have been large purchasers of Australian butter, which, unfortunately, owing to the operations of the blenders, they have obtained only in its adulterated fown, are now out of employment, and a large number of them are in receipt, of low wages. It is, therefore, imperative that the British Government should take action on the lines suggested by Mr. Baldwin. He thought that the arrangement might last for a generation. By whatever name it might be called, it would have the most beneficial results.
– This bill will work towards that end.
– It is a feeble attempt to grapple with the problem. It has no firm basis, and therefore no superstructure can be raised on it. It is necessary either .to amend the bill in a drastic manner, or to adopt the grand cooperative scheme indicated by Mr. Baldwin, to the mutual advantage of Australian producers and British consumers.
.- I support the bill, not in its entirety, but in the hope that certain amendments will be made to it in committee. I do not purpose this afternoon to traverse the difficulties and the arduous tasks of those who are engaged in the dairying industry. I do, however, desire to reply to some of the statements that have been made during the course of the debate, and to comment upon the attitude of certain honorable members. In particular, I should like to refer to a statement that was made by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green), to the effect that the amendment that was moved at the second reading stage by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) was proposed with the intention of killing the bill. In essence that amendment was supported by the majority of the dairymen who were represented on the Australian Dairy Council. It cannot be said, therefore, that the object of its mover was to wreck the bill.
– It was unanimously supported by dairymen from all parts of Australia.
– That interjection effectively disposes of the contention of the honorable member for Richmond. That honorablemember and the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) have said that theattitude of the Labour party in the past, particularly in Queensland, in regard to price fixing in the dairying industry, shows that that party has not at heart the interests of the dairymen. There is abundant evidence to the contrary.Within the precincts of this House during the past week there has been an officer from Queensland, whose position was gained as the result of : the organization of the primary producers that was made possible by the financialassistance rendered by the LabourGoveraiment in Queensland. Even the honorable member for Lilley (Mir. Mackay) was prepared to give that Government credit for what it had achieved. Perhaps I should not be statingthe position correctly if I said that that officer was sent ito Melbourne bythe Queensland Labour Government; but at all eventshe ishere with the consent of thatGovernment. I ‘ask the honorable member for Richmond, what has the Nationalist Governmentof New South Wales done to assist the dairying industryinthat direction? During the progress of this debate, has it had withinhe precincts of this HouseanOfficer watching the interests of the dairy farmers of New South Wales? I hold in my hand a copy of a telegram that wassent bythe Queensland Labour Government to the Governments of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia,Western Australia, . and Tasmania. Ido not intend to put iton record unless I amchallenged,becauseit is rather lengthy; but fitspurposewas toinducethese Governments to fall into line behind the scheme for the stabilization ofthe dairying industry that was then beingconsidered. I againask thehonorable member for Richmond, hasthe Premierof NewSouth Wales -circularized the other Governments ?
– I hold nobrieffor the Premier of NewSouth Wales.
Mr.GABB. - Although the honorable member says that he holds no brief for the Premier of New South Wales, the party to which he owes allegiance is assisting to keep a Nationalist “Government in office in that state, just as it is doing in this House. But the point I amendeavouring to make is that the Nationalist Premier Of New South Wales has not done anything to assist the dairyingindustry. TheQueensland Labour Premier, on the contrary,hasinterested himself very greatly in the matter, despite theassertion of the honorable member for Richmond that the Labour party generally, and the Labour Government of Queensland in particular, has no desire to assist the dairying industry. The honorable member for Richmond may be able to point to one action of the Queensland Labour Government to support his argument, but it cannot be denied that in themain the dairymen of Queensland have been satisfied with its ‘administration. Proof of that is afforded by the fact that they were largely instrumental in returning that government to power atthe last state elections. On the31st July last, in the course of a speech which I delivered in this Houseinconnexion with the dairying industry., I stated -
Ifhonorable members wish to account for the delay that has taken . place in ‘giving effect to the project for the stabilization of the dairying industry, I . tell them that, although the proprietary companies may appear to be working hand inhand with the co-operative companies, they are selling themin the dark. Those are thepersons whoarepreventing the stabilization of their industry desired by the dairymen of Australia to-day.
Proof of the correctness of that statement is contained in a memorandum sent by Mr. L. R. Macgregor, director, Council of Agriculture, Brisbane, to -every Queensland member of the Federal Parliament. As it is not marked “ confidential,” I shall not be acting wrongly if I quote from it. It is headed, “ Activities of Proprietary Interests,” and reads -
Proprietary interests were represented at the last interstate conference, and were present when the proposals of the conference touching thefederalbill which has been asked for, werediscussed serin tim by the conference.Since ithe conference theproprietary interests have beenbusy devising amendments to the proposals of the conference, and have embodied fresh proposals whichthey have sent tocertain interests “in various states. These proposalsembrace entirely new points, and the majorityof them are alternatives to points inthe scheme decided upon by the interstate conference to which proprietary interests nowtake objection, although theydid not raisesuch objection when present at the interstateconference. It appears to me that these interests have taken advantage of the generosity of the producers’ representatives in allowing them tobe present atthe confer- ance,in as much as it would appearthat they lave now set to work to cut to pieces the pro- ducers’ scheme.
That bears out tothe last letter the statement I made in thisHouse on the 31st July last. It was written by a gentleman who is not a member ofthe “Labour party. He is an independent gentleman who attended the conferences that were held, andknowswhat took place. I quote his opinion, ‘because I think that the people of Australia should be made acquainted with it, so that if attempts are made in this House - as they may be - to upset this bill, or those provisions in it which may conflict with proprietary interests, they will know their source. Only yesterday, in Adelaide, I was interviewed by two representatives of a proprietary company.I shall not mention the name of thefirm . to Which they belong. One of the suggestions they made to me was., “ Would it not be possible to ‘insert in this bill a provision whereby, when a voteof the producers is taken, it shall be necessary to obtain a three-fourths majority.” If any honorable member moves along thoselines we shall know that he is moving in the interestand at the dictation of these proprietary companies concerns. I replied,How can won ask a member of theLabour partyto support sucha proposal ? It is notdemocratic,. We “believe in a simple majority.” It has been objected by some honorable members that the Minister will ‘control the whole scheme. I have given some thought to this aspect of thematterduring the week-end, and have cometo the conclusion that unless some (provision is put into the bill that will make mandatory arefusal to permitthe export of butter atany time of artificial shortage, I must support ministerial control. The honorable member for Kooyong , (.Mr. Latham).,in . his speech- .
Mr.Gregory - A very selfish speech.
Mr.GABB..- - I did mot intend tosay that, but Ishallsay that if the honorable member had been briefed by the proprietaryintereststopresent their case he could not have done it more effectively. Hieargued against ministerial control, and inf erred,although he was careful not to ; say it straightout, thatpossibly a LabourMinister for Customs might,at some time, use the powers conf erredupon the Minister for Customs by this bill to refuse to grant licences to -export butter, and so force the priceof local butter down bycausinga glut in the home market. The honorable member surely forgot that the rural vote in Australia is no small one. If the dairymen of Australia made up their mind tocause thedefeat of certain honorable members of ‘this Parliament at an election they could so organize their vote in a number of districts as to turn the scale against themen who wereobjectionable to them. He also appearedto forget that we have a preferential systemof voting, which enables the primary producers to hold the balance of power many electorates. If a Labour Minister forCustomsever desired todo as the honorable member ; suggested - and I deny the likelihood of that - the views ofhis colleagues on the matter would very quicklybe broughtunder his notice. But I remind honorable members generally thatthe Labour partyrepresents the interests of workers inall industries. Workersare workers whether theyare employed in the field or in the factory, anda Labour MinisterforCustomswould be just as much concerned to prevent the exploitation of workers in the country as of workers in the city. The party of which the honorable member for Kooyong is a member is not always friendly to the dairymen and producers generally. That the producers recognize this was shown by the result of the last election in Victoria. The dairymen are more certain ofgetting justice from the Labour party than from any other political party. Theseargumen’ts effectively dispose ofthe honorable member’s suggestion to which I have referred, but he made some other remarks to which I mustreply. He said -
A Minister might compel one person to sell all hisbutter in Australia, andhe might permit another to sellallhis product abroad.
In my opinion, the licenceswhich will be issued will not take into account particular -parcels of butter, but will be issued for a given period to the exporting agent, andfee person supplying butter to the agent for export will not come under the notice of -the Minister. Even ifa Minister desired to prevent acertain individual from exporting butter,I doubtvery much whether he could do it, for if one exporting channel was closed another couldbe found so long as the quality was up to the export standard. The honorable member alsosaid -
I have heard it said that some 90 per cent. or more of the butterproducers of Australia are behind thescheme Tor single control, and
I do not understand why, if 00 per cent, of the butter producers are sufficiently intelligent to ses that the establishment of a single agency is required, they do not set up such an agency on their own account …. Nobody has explained why this co-operation should be brought about by compulsory legislation, which will interfere with individual liberty.
I interjected, “ The dairymen have already had a try in the home market.” The honorable member then observed -
In most industries if 00 per cent, of those interested are determined on a certain course, they are able <to command the market, provided they stick together. If they will not voluntarily act co-operatively it is their own fault if they suffer from the lack of cooperation.
In view of all these statements, I ask honorable members opposite who claim that all the members on their side of the House represent the primary producing interests, and that the Labour party is indifferent to them, what sympathy the dairymen could expect from the honorable member for Kooyong, who is called a Liberal? If they can find anything in the speech from which I have just quoted to show that he is- sympathetic with the dairymen, they will be smart indeed. The honorable member went on to speak about the possibility of the butter producers asking for an advance from the Government in order to establish the scheme. Before dealing with that aspect of his argument I must express my regret that, . although the Prime Minister said three or four days ago that another bill would be introduced which would be complementary to this one, we have not yet seen anything of it. I cannot see any reason why it should not have been tabled with this one. We are being asked in this bill to agree to the provisions of a measure, that is not yet in existence; which seems to me to be a haphazard way of doing business. It is a kind of “shut your eyes and open your mouth “ game of which I do not approve.
– I said in my secondreading speech that the bill to which the honorable member refers would contain a provision for a levy of an amount not exceeding one-eighth of a penny per lb. in the case of butter, and one-sixteenth of a penny per lb. in the case of cheese.
– The honorable gentleman also said, I think, that the bill would provide for an advance of up to 80 per cent, of the market value of the product.
On this subject, the honorable member for Kooyong said -
Either it is an advance. that is commercially justifiable or it is not. If ‘it is, the advance canbe obtained outside in the ordinary money market. If, on the other hand, it is not commercially justifiable, how can the Government justify making it?
Again I ask the honorable member for Richmond to notice whence came this criticism. I -am not sure that if the advance is commercially justifiable it can be obtained outside. If the export control board cuts out some of the big speculators it is probable that the’ latter will bring influence to bear upon private banking institutions not to finance the scheme. I have a clear recollection of what happened in connexion with some of the Wheat Pool arrangements. A private banking institution, when approached for financial assistance, stated that it was not in accord with its policy to do so. On that occasion, although the advance was commercially justifiable, outside influences were brought to bear upon the institution referred to. I think the honorable member for Kooyong is losing sight of the fact that the main purpose of the bill is, not to provide the machinery to finance the export trade, but to control the export of butter and cheese from Australia, in order that the identity of the commodity, as an Australian product, may be firmly established in the overseas market. The expression “ commercially justifiable “ has impressed me. Some honorable members appear to ‘ think that unless the proposal can be commercially justified, it must not be proceeded with. I realize, of course, how important it is that the scheme should pay its way, but even if the balance-sheet shows a debit, the Government will not be justified in turning down the scheme, the essential purpose of which is to improve the conditions of those engaged in the industry. I have commented freely upon the remarks made by the honorable member for Kooyong, because, up to now, he is the only member on that side of the House who has openly opposed the bill, and, in my opinion, he represents the views of the proprietary interests. The bill will be subjected to keen scrutiny in committee. Already a considerable number of amendments have been circulated, and others, I know, will be submitted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
Sections one,, two, five, and thirty ot this act shall commence on the day on which this act receives tlie Royal assent, and the remaining sections of this act shall commence on a date to be fixed by proclamation :
Provided that a proclamation under this section shall not issue unless and until at a poll of producers, taken in a prescribed manner throughout the Commonwealth, a majority of votes have been given in favour of the act being brought into operation.
.- I move -
That all the words after the words “ Provided that “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “after thus Act has been in operation for twenty-three months a poll of producers shall immediately be taken as to its continuance or otherwise, a majority of votes to decide the question “.
This subject has been fully discussed by the dairymen throughout Australia, and it is their wish that a provisional directorate should be appointed so soon as this measure becomes law. The provisional, council of agriculture appointed under the Queensland agricultural scheme held office for about fifteen months. At the end of that period a ballot of the primary producers ot’ the state was taken to appoint representatives to the council for a further period, A complete scheme of stabilization, of which the proposed export control scheme under . the bill is only a part, has been discussed by Australian dairymen for many months past, and there is the greatest unanimity among them in favour of it. -Such minor opposition as there is to the scheme is directly or indirectly attributable to proprietary interests, which are endeavouring to have a poll taken, when the bill is passed, and before .any result can be shown to delay the operation of the scheme. Meetings to discuss the scheme in Queensland were called, and all butter factories except one were there represented. The dairymen who attended were unanimously in favour of the proposal put forward by the Interstate Dairy Conference, from which proposal some of the provisions in this bill are taken. The bill does not go far enough, but still it is based upon the request made to the Prime Minister by delegates at the Interstate Dairy Conference. Meetings wen; also held by representatives of the Queensland Co-operative Dairy Companies’ Association, the Queensland Manu facturers’ Association, the Queensland Cheese Pool Board, and the Queensland Council of Agriculture. They supported the proposal unanimously. It must be remembered that 95 per cent, of the Queensland dairy produce is cooperatively controlled. Since all the cooperative factories have unanimously endorsed the scheme proposed under the bill, there is really no need for delay in order that a poll of the producers may be taken. On the 5th September last a special conference of all dairying interests was held in Queensland, and the delegates to it unanimously accepted the proposal placed before the Government by the Interstate Dairying Conference. In addition, local producers’ associations and district councils in Queensland have passed numerous resolutions requesting the Government to introduce not only a bill similar to that now before the committee, but also one dealing with the marketing of dairy produce throughout Australia. The amendment that I moved on the second reading was to establish a tribunal to fix the price of dairy produce for interstate trade based on the cost of production, as asked for by the Interstate Dairy Conference. Honorable members supporting the Government have said that the effect of such an amendment, if passed, would be to delay the bill, but I then proposed to delay the introduction of the bill for six days only, so that provision could be made in it for dealing with not only the one-third of the dairy produce exported, but also the two-thirds sold on the Australian market. There is really no need to, delay the operation of the bill to allow a . poll of the producers to be taken. There are 120,000 dairymen in the Commonwealth, and the cost of taking a ballot of them is estimated at £2,000. The taking of a ballot would give the proprietary interests an opportunity, by misrepresentations through the columns of the press supporting them, to induce the dairymen to reject the scheme, and would impose needless expense upon the taxpayers of this country. The dairymen at the Interstate Conference in April, and again in July, were unanimously in favour of control of marketing and a scheme of stabilization. That scheme has now been delayed for some time, and if further delay were occasioned by taking a polljust at the commencement of the export season, the producers would receive no benefit, from the scheme this year.. As soon as the bill is passed a provisional board should be appointed for 23 months, and after that period has expired a vote should be taken of the producers in Australia for the appointment of a dairy produce export control board.. To take a ballot now, suppliers? rolls would have to be obtained from each butter factory and checked very carefully. It is difficult to; get accurate rolls, because some dairymen supply two different factories within a brief period. It would be quite possible for one farmer to be on two different rolls and to record two votes at a poll unless the greatest care is taken. When the act has been in operation for nearly two years, the producers will know whether the scheme is satisfactory. If my amendment is carried, the provisional board appointed will be able during the next 23 months to make full inquiries, and at the end of that period to place before the suppliers definite proof whether the scheme is justified. To take a poll at present would be very unwise. The farmers will be in the dark. This bill will not give to the producers all the relief that they need. Any one who believes that the big combinations in Great Britain can be broken up within a few months, and that, as a result, the dairymen of Australia will secure a higher price for their butter, is making a fatal mistake. In the first place, honorable members should bear in mind that this bill deals only with the one-third of the output of butter in Australia which is exported. There will still betwo-thirds of it sold on the Australian market in an unregulated way, and without any regard to the need forproviding for a living wage for dairymen. I mention this because the Treasurer has. said that if this bill is. passed dairymen will get immediate relief.
– So they will.
– Every one must know that the passing of this bill will not be followed immediately by an increase in the priceof butter.
– The passing of the bill will help those engaged in the dairying industry very materially.
– I agree that it willbe a. step in that direction, but for at least two years it is not likely to give any benefit to the dairymen of Australia. They have requested that somethingshould be done by the appointment of a. tribunal, such as that for which I moved, to fix the price of butter for the interstate trade upon the basis of the cost of production. The Government hasturned that scheme down, and the Treasurer now tell’s the dairymen that the passing of this bill to deal with export will give them immediate relief. We know what happened in New Zealand. Early in 1923 a measure similar to this, but going further than this bill proposes to go, was: passed in New Zealand, and all that has been done under it up to the present has been to carry out certain investigations in London in connexion with the marketing of New Zealand butter.
-That was the inten tion of the New Zealand measure.
– Yes, but it has been passed for over twelve months, and the dairymen of New Zealand have derived no. benefit from it up to the present time. I. ask honorable members not to try to mislead the dairymen of Australia by telling them that this bill will give them all they desire It will take nearly two years to bring the machinery of this measure into operation-. It will be necessary to send representatives to London to carry out preliminary investigations, and negotiate with the Tooley-street agents, before anything effective can be done. The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fen ton) has already referred to the report of Mr. O’Callaghan, the Commonwealth dairy expert. He has pointed out that those who believe that by the appointment of a board to control the export of dairy produce we can push out the Tooleystreet agents in six, or in twelve, months are making a stupid blunder, because as soon as we begin to fight them they will fight us by trading in Danish and Argentine butter, to the detriment of Australian producers. Mr. O’Callaghan has recently been appointed to an important positionin the Argentine, a country which has done much to improve its marketing conditions. He. has been taken away from Australia, with his ripe experience, and the Argentine will now have the benefit of the knowledge he has gained here. Even if we appointed a provisional board at present, it would take some time to carry out preliminary investigation, and get the organization into operation. Why should the Government unduly delay the operation of this Act? I say that there should be no further delay. I intend later on to submit an amendment dealing with the constitution of the proposed board, and another dealing with the election of the members of the Dairy Produce Control Board. I hope that the Prime Minister will not put the country to the expense of a poll of the dairymen at present, but will, in accordance with the views of representatives of delegates from butter factories co-opeTatively controlled, bring the bill into operation immediately. Within two years, when they will have had some experience of the results of its operation, a poll should be taken for the election of the members of the Dairy Produce Control Board. In the meantime a provisional board only should be appointed.
.- I trust that the committee will not accept the amendment. We are dealing at present with very important and farreaching legislation. Notwithstanding, what has been said by the honorable member forCapricornia (Mr. Forde) to the contrary, there is great diversity of opinion amongst dairymen on the subject of the bill. Since the House rose on Friday I have been consulted about it in Sydney, and I found that whilst some persons strongly support the measure, there are others as strongly opposed to ‘it. It would be very unwise that such legislation should be rushed through. The honorable member for Capricornia has said that it cannot be of much benefit for a considerable’ time, and I say that we should take the necessay precaution of having a poll of the producers to discover whether the measure is approved by them.
– The producers generally want the bill, but thosecontrolling the proprietary butter factories do not want it.
– The honorable member may speak for some who have consulted him, but I speak Tor some who have consulted me. I say that a number of the producers wish to have a poll taken upon this measure. All the factories have their own lists of suppliers, and though the honorable member for Capricornia has pointed out that one man may be supplying more than one factory, it should be a very easy matter to discover from the lists who are supplying more than one factory. We must assume that a little common sense will be used in the taking of the poll. I think it would be very unwise of the committee to accept the amendment or any amendment which would defeat the provision for the taking of a poll before the bill becomes law. If it is found that the producers are in favour of it, the board will have the. greater confidence in going on with the administration of the measure. It might be advisable, in a few years’ time, after they had had some experience of it, to take a poll to see whether the producers desired that the proposed control should continue.
– I am sorry to have to disagree with the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) on this matter. I can see nothing wrong in consulting the producers by having a poll taken to discover whether they are in f avour of this measure or not. We have been told that it would take two or three months to have a poll of the butter producers taken, but that is the business of theGovernment.
– There isno reason why it should take so long.
– That is so. If the producers do not want this method of dealing with the export of butter they have a, right to be allowed to say so. I think they should be consulted as to whether a board should be appointed -to control theexport of butter. I found nothing in the arguments of the honorable member for Capricornia to support the postponement of a poll of the producers. If the bill is a good one there is nothing to prevent its being brought into operation within three or four months. In connexion with a federal election we can take a poll of the electors of Australia in a month. I see nothing to prevent a poll of the dairy farmers on this measure being taken within three or four weeks. I very much regret that I cannot see eye to eye with the honorable member forCapricornia on this matter. I can scarcelyconceiveof the present Government proposing anylegislation that would be useful either to producers or consumers. I am not very hopeful that this bill will be of much benefit to the producers of butter, but I think that the least we can do is by a poll to let them say what they think about it. .
.- Referring first of all to the remarks of those who suggest that the measure should be put into operation for a certain period before a poll of the producers is taken upon it, I should like to direct the attention of honorable members to the definition clause, in which it is provided that - “ Producers “ means persons carrying on business as suppliers of milk or cream to factories manufacturing dairy produce for export.
That raises the question, who are to be considered producers ? Many butter factories manufacture butter for sale in their local markets or within the state in which they are established, and not for export. The bill is of vital importance to these producers because the local price is governed by the export price. Is it intended that they should be disfranchised because they happen to supply factories that do not specifically manufacture for export. There might, if the definition were adopted as it stands, be some argument as to who are entitled to be enrolled as producers, and it would take some time to compile the rolls. It is hoped that the board of control will be able to do something for the benefit of the dairying industry of Australia, and if that hope is to be realized, the sooner the measure is brought into operation the better. If “the measure is brought into operation immediately, the machinery will be organized at the close of the present season, and will be ready for the conduct of operations in the next season. To show whether or not the dairymen desire this scheme, I shall read a telegram which I have received from the president of the Farmers’ and Settlers’ . Association of New South “Wales -
Agree to proposed scheme for control of butter and cheese as passed by Interstate Dairying Conference last August. “
Yesterday, when in Sydney, I called on the Primary Producers’ Union - an association which contains among its members probably more dairymen than any other association in Australia - and found it also to be in favour of the proposal agreed to by the interstate conference. In my electorate, which is vitally interested in the dairying industry, and, therefore, in this measure, I held a series of five meetings,” at each of which a motion was unanimously agreed to that the bill be brought into operation forthwith, and that at the end of two years, when the dairymen would have- had an opportunity to ascertain whether it had proved beneficial or not, a poll should be taken.
– They did not know the provisions of the bill ; then, how could they agree to it?
– I had an idea that the bill would be framed along the lines of the recommendations of the interstate conference. As I was a delegate to that conference, and attended all its meetings, I was able to give those present a fair idea of what the provisions of the bill were, likely to be. At a later stage, I propose to move an amendment which, although apparently the same as .that moved by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde), is totally different. In preparing this amendment, my desire has been to remove the present ambiguity as to the date on which the measure will come into operation. Sections 1, 2, 5, and 30 ! are to come into operation on the date on which assent to the bill is given, and the remainder on a date to be fixed by proclamation. The amendment of the honorable- member for Capricornia provides for a poll “ after this act has been in operation for 23 months.” To get over the difficulty of having two dates, I propose to omit all the words after “ Proclamation,” and to insert other words in. their place. My amendment contains a sentence which means a good deal. It reads -
Every voter at the poll on the proposals submitted shall be entitled to one vote only.
In the bill- “Producers” means persons carrying on business as suppliers of milk or cream to factories manufacturing dairy produce for export.
I see, there, nothing to prevent one person from having more than one vote, as the dairy farmer, and his share farmer, or share farmers, may each vote. My amendment would prevent that. I point out that a similar provision to that contained in my proposed amendment is included in the New Zealand act.
– To which amendment is the honorable member speaking?
– Only one amendment has yet been moved. I was pointing out the difference between the amendment of the honorable member for Capricornia and that which I propose to move. While the principle underlying both is the same in that both desire that the act shall come into operation forthwith, that a board shall be constituted as soon as possible, and that no time be lost in taking a poll of the producers, there is a difference in other respects.
– The Government cannot accept the amendment of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde), as there is no direct evidence that a majority of the dairy producers of Australia desires this measure. It has been suggested that the Government has that evidence, but that is not so, although I believe that sufficient evidence was adduced to show that a majority of dairy farmers desired the scheme which was originally propounded by a conference of those engaged in the dairying industry. Even in that case, however, the evidence was not entirely convincing. . Still, the Government could not see its way to accept that scheme, and after certain conferences had been held, and negotiations had taken place, we decided to introduce this measure. I indicated to those interested that we desired convincing evidence that legislation of. this nature was wanted by them. A number of those interested intimated their
Support of the action contemplated by the Government, but in no case was support directly promised for this particular measure. The expressions of approval which were received referred, in most instances, to what is generally termed the “ Paterson scheme.” As that scheme is not embodied in this bill I am not in a position to say that the measure has their support. There is not conclusive evidence that those in the dairying industry really desire action along the lines contemplated in this bill, and it is essential that they should have the opportunity to express their opinion regarding the measure, because,being limited to the export trade, it deals only with the exportation of butter.
– It affects all the consumers of butter.
– The bill deals only with the exportation of butter, and as only the producers of butter are concerned, they are entitled to an opportunity to say whether they desire it or not. I appreciate the seriousness of delay, but I do not think that the anticipation that the taking of a poll would be a lengthy proceeding is justifiable. I agree with the remarks of the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) regarding the definition of “ producers.” Most of the factories in this country have, at some time or other, produced butter for export.’ Later, I propose to move to strike out of the definition of “ producers “ the words “ for export.” The poll could then be taken at the factories, and I know of no way in which it could be taken more quickly. If the voting shows that the producers desire the measure, there should be ample time for the board to be appointed early enough to function before the next season of heavy exportation. I do not share the apprehension of some honorable members that much time must elapse before the opinion of the dairy farmers can be known. I consider that there should be no difficulty in taking the poll within a period of one month or six weeks.
.- In my second-reading speech I indicated that I would move or support an amendment providing for a poll of the producers to be taken at the end of two years, so that the provisions of thio bill might be put into operation at the earliest moment. I am anxious that assistance should be given as soon as possible to those engaged in the dairying industry. I desire that that assistance shall be given them for this export season. The Prime Minister stated that he had not sufficient information to enable him to say that the producers of Australia are behind it. I have here an extract from the Brisbane Courier of 6th September, giving a report of a conference held in Brisbane, at which this bill and other proposals were discussed.
The Queensland delegates who attended the recent interstate conference in Melbourne reported upon the decisions arrived at by that body. After full discussion, the conference held to-day agreed to the following motions : -
That this conference accept the draft Federal Bill providing for the control of export.
That an endeavour be made to have other suggested provisions included in the measure.
That an endeavour be made also to secure Federal legislative provision whereby an export, bounty scheme may be instituted at the discretion of theFederal Producers Board.
There is overwhelming evidence that this bill has the support of at least a majority of the producers of Queensland. I regret that I cannot see eye; to eye with my leader in this instance. Myvote will be cast in favour of a poll being taken at the end of two years,.forthe reasons already given.
– I am in accord with the proposals of the Government as they include a democratic principle. The people engaged in this industry should have some say in its control. I cannot understand how any honorable member; who believes in the will of the people being given effect, objecting to, a poll being taken.I have a strong suspicion that the power behind this bill will be found in the largecooperative companies. Although the word “co-operative” is associated with them, they are in many cases really joint-stock companies, and deal with all kinds of produce, and not only dairy produce. When there is a glut of butter these great co-operative concerns, which are really joint-stock companies, can buy it up, store it, and then put up the price to suit, themselves. This bill is designed, not to help the producers, but to help the speculatots. I am confident that if the real producers are given the opportunity they will reject the, scheme-.For that reason I support the proposal for a, poll, to bo taken among those real producers, the persons who. understand the working of these co-operative companies..
.-I hope that the clause will not be altered. It is not a. fair proposal to take a man’s produce without giving him a voice in the disposal of it. Surely it is a democratic principle that a man. shall have a voice in the disposal of his produce?’
– If a poll is taken the minority of the producers will have no voice in the sale. of their produce.
– But in a democracy therule of the majority must apply. I hope that the amendment will be rejected.
.- Itis refreshing to hear honorable members of the Opposition; supporting’ the Government against a proposal submitted by one of their own party. The reason advanced by the honorable mem- ber for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley)f or supporting the holding of a poll is my reason for objecting to the immediate holding of a poll. The honorable member declares that if the scheme is submitted to the dairymen they will reject it. That is just what. I am. afraid of. I think the dairymen should have some evidence that the scheme will benefit them before they are asked to give a pronouncement, on. it. I cannot understand the Prime Minister (Mr.. Bruce), saying that representations have not been made to; him in support of the Government’s proposal. As has been pointed out, already a conference of Queensland! co-operative dairying companies has approved of the adoption of the scheme. I think it would have been better if the Government had submitted the proposal to. the industry generally before, bringing, down, its. bill than for us, to spend days in this discussion, and then find our workuser less. Butter is now being marketed through various channels, and, according to the Government the dairymen are not getting justice.It remains to be seen whether they will fare better under the scheme proposed.. Whether the period be that suggested, by the honorable member for Capricornia, (Mr. Forde), or that suggested by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) , before the dairymen are asked to vote upon the scheme, they should at least have some experience of how it works. Therefore, I hope the Government will reconsider the position. Sufficient representations, have already been made to justify the passage of the bill. Let it be in operation for two years, and then the dairymen can be asked to say whether they are satisfied with it or not. To receive strong representations fromall parts of Australia for the immediate passing of the bill, and then to ask the dairymen again to say whether they want it or not, savours of the ridiculous.
– I cannot understand the reasoning of the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay). He doesnot want the scheme to be submitted to the producers fat theiropinion, because they may reject it. No matter what the industry is, the only persons who should count, and whose approval or otherwise we should try to obtain for the adoption of any scheme for marketing the product of their industry, are those who are. directly engaged in it. The Prime Ministerhas told us that in four weeks he can obtain the opinion of those directly concerned in the dairying industry. There can be nothing wrong in submitting the Government’s proposal to the men without whom the dairying industry could not exist; first telling them exactly what the bill proposes, and then letting them say whether it is likely to suit them.
Mr.Scullin. - And at the same time letting them know what it will cost them.
– Exactly. The scheme is placed before us in this bill, but it is to be financed by another bill we have not yet seen.. The men engaged in the industry have a right to know all about this other measure before the Government proceed with their scheme. Yet some honorable member are willing that legislations introduced in this haphazard manner should be allowed to operate for eighteen months or two years before the people engaged in the industry are permitted to say whether they approve of it or not.
– After all the expense has been incurred-.
– And probably after the scheme has failed. If it fails the responsibility will rest upon those who have thrown the bill at the House and the producers in this way. If it is likely, to fail, I. want to show clearly where I stood in the matter. It is only fair to allow the producers who are the best judges of their own business, to say whether they approve of all that the bill contains.
– They have already expressed their approval of it.
– The honorable member might advance that argument with success outside this chamber, but he cannot do so here.. Honorable members know nothing about the subsidiary bill ; yet we are informed that the dairymen outside know all about it. On Friday last I pointed out the. burden already placed on the. dairymen of Australia by the various levies imposed on them,, and I. understand that the subsidiary bill to which I have referred proposes to make a further levy on them of one-eighth of a penny per pound of butter., which will mean adding £50,000 to the £80,000 burden which they are already carrying. In these circumstances it is only fair that we should tell these people what the scheme outlined inthe bill is likely to cost them. I have pointed’ out on a previous occasion that the measure will affect only one-third of the butter produced for export. At any rate-, we have the assurance of the PrimeMinister (Mr. Bruce) that the opinion of the people engaged in the industry can be obtained in four or five weeks, and it is only fair that these people shouldbe given an opportunity to express that opinion. Otherwise they would have some very hard words to say against honorable members of this chamber who would deny them the right to say what they thought of any bill affecting their interests.
.. - Very few honorable members are aware that the Brisbane electorate includes a large dairying area. It is generally looked upon as an entirely metropolitan constituency, and such it was until the last redistribution of seats, when a large district in which the dairying industry is carried on was: added to it. There is every indication that the output of butter this season will reach the record of the 1921-22 season, and that there will’ probably be 44,600 tons of butter available for export. Representations have been made to me that in all probability the poll provided for in the bill could not be taken before the beginning of the export season, but the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has given us the assurance, that the poll will probably be taken within a month, and before the export season starts.
– It has already started..
– I do not know that it has. started’ to, any extent. Although I thought at first that theGovernmemt might accept the amendment because of the urgency of bringing’ the. scheme intra operation immediately, in view of the Prime Minister’s assurance that the poll can be taken within a month, and that the export season will not be affected, Ishallnow support the clause.
.- If it had not been for the provision for taking a poll of the producersI should have opposed the second reading of the bill, because I was very doubtful that it would do what the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) thinks it will for the dairy producers
However, as I thought that the producers should have the opportunity, not in two. years, but now, to say what they think of the proposal, I did not vote against the second reading. I do not profess to know very much about the dairying industry. I do not think there are any dairymen in my constituency, unless people who sell milk to the consumers in the city may be called dairymen, but I can claim to have watched the progress of the dairying industry in Tasmania for a number of years. I have not heard anything about this bill from the dairymen of that state, possibly because they have not had the opportunity to study its provisions. While I have no dairymen as constituents, I represent a Tasmanian constituency, and I feel it is only right that I should vote in the interests of Tasmanian dairymen, according to my knowledge of their requirements. I have read every clause of the bill carefully, and I find that quite a number of provisions are more likely to injure the producers, and pile up expenses on them, than to have the opposite effect. For instance, clause 4 provides that fees may be drawn by ten members of the proposed board. Later clauses provide that a London agency may be established, which may consist of any number of persons, “that the board may appoint such officers as it considers necessary and at such salaries and upon such conditions as are prescribed, and it may expend any money it considers necessary upon fees and the salaries, wages, and travelling expenses of its employees. Because of all these provisions for expenditure, it is probable that the majority of the producers will be afraid of the scheme. They may hold that it is in the interests of the companies rather than the actual producers. Having regard to the enormous powers to be vested in the board, and the expenses entailed, the only sensible thing to do is to ask, forthwith, those engaged in the industry to express their opinion upon the bill. The Prime Minister is right in saying that it should be possible for a poll to be taken within a few weeks. I do not think the consumers are very much interested in the measure, because it relates to only that one-third of the total output which is to be exported.
– I do not accept that view.
– There may be room for difference of opinion upon that point, but I regard the bill as likely to prove more dangerous to the producers than to the consumers. Therefore, the producers should be consulted as soon as possible. The poll should not be deferred until the scheme has been in operation for a couple of years, for possibly by that time a great deal of damage will have been done. If after the producers have declared in favour of the bill it does not fulfil their expectations, it can be amended or. repealed. I oppose the amendment.
.- The Prime Minister said a poll of the producers could be taken in about four weeks through the various factories, but according to the definition clause all factories will not come within the scope of the bill, and, therefore, the poll will be limited to certain producers, and others will be disfranchised. If a poll is to bo taken, all producers should be entitled to vote. I emphasize again the anomaly of this Parliament enacting legislation for the benefit of a section of the community, and then asking them by means of a poll if they want it. I have heard of no proposal to ask the commercial community if it approves of the Bankruptcy Bill. Surely the collective wisdom of this House should be capable of evolving a measure to meet the requirements of the dairying industry. I protest against the taking of a poll. The butter producers in my electorate are in favour of this bill, and they desire it to be brought into operation forthwith.
.- This bill is a legislative innovation. As a rule a Government makes up its mind that certain legislation is in the interests of the country and it relies upon the majority supporting it to carry its proposals through Parliament; but apparently this Government has not made up its mind upon this subject. There is a diversity of opinion, not only amongst those who claim to represent the producers, but even amongst Ministers. I do not represent a rural constituency, but my constituency, like that of the honorable member for Brisbane, has some cows, which, feeding upon the luxuriant pastures of the street gutters, produce fine butter. Therefore, the honorable member for Brisbane and I may claim to be experts on this subject. But has the
Prime Minister made up his mind ? No I Does he believe that the bill will benefit the butter producers? He is not sure. He says that something must be done to help the dairying industry, but what shall it be ? As those who are actually engaged in the industry are not certain of what they want, outside the Paterson scheme, the Prime Minister said, “ Letus suggest something similar to the New Zealand arrangement, and see if that will be acceptable.” In moving the second reading he said, in effect, “ It may be that this bill is the right step, but if it is not, God help you ! In that event some other step must be taken, for the problem must be solved.” According to the. right honorable gentleman the Government is merely experimenting with this bill. He is not sufficiently convinced of the virtues of his proposals to stand or fall by them. But his colleague, the Treasurer, is quite sure that the bill will do good, and that it “ represents the most important advance in the butter industry since refrigeration has been commercialized.” The first necessity is for the Prime Minister and the Treasurer to consult together and make up their minds. The divergence of the opinions of the two leaders represents the attitude of the. Government towards the dairying industry. If Ministers had made up their minds that this proposal would -be of real value, they would not have proposed a poll of tha producers, but would have declared that in the opinion of the Government the system of control here outlined is - necessary for the welfare of the industry. Have the Ministerial supporters made up their minds ? No ; they, too, are divided. For instance, the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) said that the business-like course would have been to ascertain the opinion of the dairy farmers before introducing the bill, and then, having introduced a measure that represented the views of the industry, the Government should have been prepared to stand by it. Are the people who are presumed to be likely to benefit agreed as to the virtues of the bill? No; nor are those who are interested in butter factories and in the export trade. Because of the lack of unanimity, the Government proposes to take a poll of the producers in order to ascertain whether they will have this scheme after it has been embodied in an act of Parliament!
It is probable that, after Parliament has spent many days in discussing the proposal, the dairy farmers will reject it. There are three markets in which our butter is sold, and a number of selling agencies with conflicting interests. A large trade in butter has been built up in the East. Some traders have established interests in China and Japan, and in Manila, and in the Straits Settlements. A special class of export trade has been developed, and those interested in it do not wish for the proposed control. For example, butter is exported to Java in metal containers. Some of the traders consider that the bill would injure the market in the East for Australian butter, and they naturally do not want their trade controlled by a body that may have no knowledge of its requirements. Besides, what justification is there for allowing the dairy farmers to interfere with a trade of which they have no knowledge? All that the dairymen want is a good price for their butter, just as the workmen in the cities are anxious to secure sufficient wages to enable them to live comfortably. It may be said that many dairymen have paid too dearly for their land, and that their interest bill is too high. That is a matter which will have to be dealt with in some other way. Like the workmen in the cities, the main requirement of the dairy farmers is a fair and adequate return for their labour. They certainly have no knowledge of the Eastern trade, and the bill makes no provision to meet the special needs of that trade. The dairy farmers do not understand the selling of butter, but Parliament should make itself familiar with the needs of the’ trade on the selling side. Therefore, there are two or three aspects from which this subject is to be considered. The Eastern trade, as I have indicated, is different from the European trade, and any interference by those who do not understand it will have an injurious effect on the industry, to the detriment of the producers. Then, again, the co-operative butter factories are divided into two sections, one of which sells direct to companies known as co-operative export companies that mainly trade in overseas consignments, and the other sells to agents who deal on an f.o.b. basis. It is obvious, then, that producers and the sellers differ as to the value of the bill. The 150,000 men and women engaged in the dairying industry are at a losstoknow whether the bestresults are to be obtained from dealing with those who sell f…o.b. or with those who make consignments direct to London. It seems to me to be self-evident that the f.o.b. buyers must be excluded from the operations of the bill, otherwise injury will be inflicted on that ibranch Of the trade. We are told that themeasure has been drafted on the lines of the New Zealand act, but I point out that that measure has become, to a certain extent, adead letter. In New Zealand there is no interference with thef.o.b. trade, because it has been found that the measure can only be applied to the detriment of that trade. How can Australia,with its comparatively small production, hope to have any considerable influence on the butter markets of the world ? The Prime Minister and his supporters are not in agreement even on that point. Knowing no more about butter than I do, the Prime Minister can only be guided by the advice furnished to him., and he is of the opinion that theremay be some possibility of regulating the supplies sent toLondon from Australia. Although the Prime Minister has accepted the advice tendered to him that there must be some regulation of the supplies reaching Great Britain, his supporters are not in agreement on the matter. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson), for example, does not think that the supplies could be regulated. He remarked that it would be unwise to market Australian butter in the period favorable to European production. Other honorable members hold a different view. The very persons who are advising the Governmentbeing divided on the subject, how can the dairymen be expected to judge? A synopsis of the case should be prepared. If the Government deems it advisable to take a referendum, it should be fortified by a definite opinion formed as the result of expert advice. Personally, I regard the measure as a gigantic failure. I do not think it will be of any particular value to those whom it professes to serve, and I am convinced that the Prime Minister, in his private investigation of the subject, has formed a similar opinion. He has endeavoured to hide his doubt, but he admits that the utility of the bill is open to question. Evidently, Ministers , ar.e leaping in the dark, and since there is a great conflict of interests, and no agreement can be arrived at, the committee should be careful that it does not pass a bill that will do more harm than good. Before discussing the matter in this chamber the proposal should have been referred to thoseengaged in the industry. There should have been a campaign, and the views of the various interests should have been made known and discussed in all districts. As a result of that discussion in the country the Government should have formed a definite opinion, and brought down a concrete proposal that would be of value. I realize that the bill will be (passed, because the Government has a majority. Honorable members on this side of the chamber regard it as the greatest delusion ever sought to be imposed upon a great body of producers, who, I am sure, will he disappointed. It willbe found necessary to go over the whole ground again and try to seek a solution.
Mr. CORSER (Wide Bay) (5.40].- This subject has been discussed by dairymen throughout Australia for six months, and surely they should know what is required. Although the measure does notgo so far as they, and I, think it should, I prefer half a loaf to no bread. The dairymen of Queensland’ and New South Wales are well informed as to the needs of the industry, and they have already expressed their views. What is the use of the representatives in this House if they do not know how to protect the interests of their constituents? The desire of the dairymen throughout Queensland and New South Wales is that the measure shall be passed as soon as possible. Why should their wishes be thwarted by, perhaps, two or three factories in Victoria that may be large dealers in butter, but are notparticularly interested in ‘the welfare of the producers? No time should be lost. To take a poll over such an enormous area as that devoted to dairying would meana considerable loss of time andmoney. I have received a telegram in the following terms.: -
Meeting Gympie representative -thirty centres over . 2,000 dairymen urgentl request your support and assistancepassagebill giving adequate assistance to dairying industry during present session.
I have had a large number of telegrams and letters containing similar requests.
We should not ask the dairymen to come to a decision on a- question that has already been emphatically answered by them.
– They have not done that. “They decided on the first scheme, but not on this.
– The dairymen have been fully informed of what has taken place, and they know that the other scheme was turned down a long while ago because it was unconstitutional. For some time we have been endeavouring to decide upon means to give them relief. They are aware of the nature of this scheme. Why, then, should it be referred back to them for an expression of opinion ?
– Have they seen a copy of this bill?
– I do not say that they have seen a copy of the bill. They are, however, acquainted with its provisions. Even if they did peruse the - measure, what greater knowledge would they have of the scheme? If honorable members are not competent to represent their constituents they should make way for others who are. It is our duty to see that the interests of our constituents are properly protected. The bill does not go so far as I should like to see it go, but it will afford “some relief, and the sooner it is put into operation the greater will be the benefit conferred by it.
– It is most “refreshing to find honorable members opposite, almost for the first time this session, in a body supporting the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce). It is also refreshing to find on this side of the chamber so many staunch supporters of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde). For a considerable time during the speech of the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey), I was unable to determine upon which side he intended to range himself. I believe that the best argument advanced this afternoon was that of the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay). The dairymen will be in a better position to decide upon what they want after the measure has been sufficiently long ‘ in operation to enable them to judge of its worth. At present the average dairyman cannot say whether or not this scheme meets his wishes. I shall support the amendment.
.- It would be as nauseous to me to support either the proposal of the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green), or that of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde), as it would to take a dose of castor oil. “ The proposal of the Government is to issue a proclamation, but before that proclamation can have any effect a vote of those interested in the dairying industry must be taken. The amendment provides that a period of two years shall elapse before that vote is taken. I do not understand the logic of those who are favorable to that course. A conference of the Country party organizations is to be held in Melbourne this week. The representatives at that conference will decide the fate of the Composite Government. That may be the reason for the desire of some honorable members to delay this matter. It does not, however, prevent other honorable members from standing up for the principles that they espouse. The amendment does not - contain any principle, unless it be the desire to involve the Government in expenditure, and make it bear the responsibility for any failure that may result. At a public dinner yesterday, and I believe at a meeting of his party to-day, the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) spoke strongly about the blackmailing methods being adopted by a new party. This is what he said-
– I ask the honorable member to confine himself to the amendment.
– I want to show what the Prime Minister’s motive is. He said -
New parties spring up and do not hesitate to admit frankly that their object is to obtain a position in which they will hold the balance of power, and gain their end by a species of political blackmail.
– The honorable member is distinctly out of order.
– I cannot suggest any new party except that comprising honorable members who sit in the corner opposite. I honestly admit that I do not like voting with the Government, but as it appears to me that the principle of government by the people is being attacked by the amendment, I shall have to consider what action it will be best for me to take. I advise the mover of the amendment to withdraw it. It cannot be supported by either honorable members opposite or the true democrats who sit on this side of the chamber.
.- During the last four or five months this matter has been before the House in one form or another. Although the scheme has undergone alteration, the opinion pf the primary producers bas not changed. They favour proceeding with the measure as rapidly as possible. The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey) a few minutes ago proved conclusively, that the scheme should be put into operation without the taking of a poll. He said that it was absolutely impossible for the. primary producers to understand it, particularly in its relation to marketing. If the honorable member, with his usual eloquence, can persuade those who are engaged in the dairying industry that this proposal is a snare and a delusion, the dairymen may be induced to vote against it, but I have no hesitation in saying that the dairymen are satisfied that a measure of this character will be in their interests. I have not heard one word of objection to it, but I have had hundreds of communications from both individual dairymen and dairying associations urging support of the scheme. When the measure had been in operation for two years, a vote of the dairymen would show whether they were in favour of it or opposed to it.
– What is wrong with letting them pronounce upon it now?
– We shall soon be in the middle of the export season. Although the Prime Minister has assured us that the vote could be taken within a month, our experience proves that it would b’e a miracle if the department handling the matter were to move at such a pace. I can see no reason for declining to proceed along the lines indicated by the amendment, and I intend to support it.
.- I shall support the amendment. I recognize, of course, that by assisting to defer the operation of the poll, I shall lay myself open to charges by honorable members on this side. Still, we should not deny to the primary producer the right to a poll ; the matter would merely be deferred for two years. Until now, the only opinion I have heard from dairymen and from dairying organizations in my district is that the poll should be taken two years hence. I do not wish to delay in any way the exportation of butter under this scheme. I am satisfied that, whether the poll is taken immediately or two years hence, the dairymen of Australia will carry it. I want them to have experience of the scheme, because I believe that that will influence them to support it. I cannot agree with the contention that this bill is of no use. We could wish for a measure of greater usefulness, but at the same time this will assist to control the export of butter and cheese from Australia.
.- We frequently find, as the result of litigation, that acts of Parliament can be read in many different ways. I should like the Prime Minister to indicate whether the regulations that are to be made could in any way affect the proviso, which reads -
Provided that a proclamation under this section shall not issue unless and until at a poll of ‘ producers taken in the prescribed manner throughout the Commonwealth, a majority of votes have been given in favour of the act being brought into operation.
Does “majority” mean a bare majority? Could the regulations qualify that provision in any way? We are accustomed to differences of opinion amongst primary producers. Frequently, because of misunderstanding and misrepresentation they do not work as unitedly as we could wish, and in this matter a big majority should not be asked for.
.- I aru not opposed to a poll of the producers being taken, but I am concerned about the time when it shall be taken. The dairymen of Australia are clamouring for a bill on the lines of the one before us, and although this does not give them nearly all they want, nor does it provide all that I want them to get, it is a step in the right direction.
– A very small step.
– Yes, it falls far short, of what I desire, for it takes into account only one phase of marketing dairy produce. Instead of spending so much time on a bill that deals with the export trade only, we should be considering a measure that would deal with the industry in a national way. It is because I hold that belief that I moved a few days ago to reduce the proposed vote on the Estimates of the Prime Minister’s Department by £1 as an instruction to the Government to provide a comprehensive scheme for marketing the dairy produce of Australia both at home and abroad. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) said some very nasty things about me for moving that amendment, and said that I was jeopardizing the passage of this bill. I submit that that was an entirely wrong view of the matter. I am supporting the bill, and have no desire whatever to wreck it, as he suggested. Why not let us vote on the matter immediately ? We are elected to this Parliament to represent the people in our constituencies, and surely we are able to say what they want Did the Government propose to submit to a poll of the taxpayers the Land Tax Amendment Bill it introducedsome time ago to relieve the wealthy pastoralists of the payment of £1,300,000 . taxation that they owed? Did it propose to refer to the boy scouts the Boy Scouts Association Bill which we have just passed ? Did it propose to refer to the people the Bankruptcy Bill which was before us a few days ago ? There is no more need to refer this bill to the people than there was to refer to them the measures I have just mentioned. It is the first time I have heard of a proposal that a bill of this character should be referred to the people concerned for their approval or otherwise after it had been passed by Parliament. A conference of the Nationalist party is sitting in Melbourne. Will decisions of that conference be submitted to the rank and file of Nationalist supporters outside?
– There are no Nationalist supporters outside.
– I admit that the number is decreasing rapidly, and that the principal supporters of the party are those whom it pays to advocate its views. But let us take another example. The decisions of a Labour party conference are not submitted to the rank and file of the party for confirmation. The delegates accept full responsibility for dealing with the agenda-paper. I submit that we should accept the responsibility which has been placed upon us, and decide this matter definitely. As the Acting Leader of the Opposition has said, the Government does not know what it wants, and it pretends not to know what the dairy producers want. Perhaps, two telegrams which I have just received will help it to realize that the dairy farmers want the provisions of this bill put into operation as rapidly as possible. I received the fol lowing telegram from. Mr. Brownlie, the executive officer of the dairymen of the Columboola district, in the Maranoa electorate: -
Congratulations on behalf of Columboola producers; we appreciate your efforts re stabilizing; rest assured dairymen behind you in obtaining return to farmers, based on cost of production.
That is what I am strenuously fighting for. The marketing of the exportable surplus of butter is only a phase of the matter. I received another telegram from Pialba, in the electorate of the honorable member for Wide Bay. It reads as follows : -
Meeting Gympie representative thirty centres over two thousand dairymen urgently request, your support and assistance passage bill giving adequate assistance to dairy industry during present session.
– I read that telegram a few minutes ago.
– Then that is an added reason why the honorable member should urge the Government which he is supporting to agree to what I am proposing. The dairy farmers desire that this measure shall be put into operation in time for the fast approaching export season.
– The honorable member is causing delay now.
– It is highly desirable that I should urge with all my power the acceptance of my proposal in addition to that contained in the bill. If the provisions of the bill are adhered to, considerable delay must occur. It will take months to prepare and check rolls in order that the poll provided for in the bill may be held, to say nothing of the £2,000 in cost that will be involved, whereas if my amendment were adopted a provisional board could be appointed immediately by the various co-operative and proprietary companies concerned in the export of butter, and it could put the scheme into operation forthwith. The board could carry on for approximately 23 months, and the dairymen would then be in a position to decide by the taking of a poll whether the scheme was worth retaining or not. It would be far better to adopt that course, for it would permit the case for the scheme to be put fully and clearly to the producers. If a poll were taken at this inopportune time many producers would not know where they stood. Additional arguments in favour of deferring the taking of a poll for two years are that in the meantime the preliminary organizing work would have been done, the provisional board would have been able to send an officer to London to investigate the marketing conditions there, and submit a report, and the supporters of the scheme would have had time to prove that those who are now advising delay are chiefly interested in assisting the speculators, who have been bleeding the dairy producers for so long, to retain their position. As the cooperators would have a majority on the provisional board I submit that there is everything to gain and nothing to lose by appointing it immediately, and deferring the taking of a poll as I have suggested.
.- I oppose the amendment for the reason that I think the dairy producers, who are the parties most interested, should be given an opportunity to say whether this scheme is to become operative or not. I have no doubt whatever that they will reject it if they are given the opportunity to doso. Many of the so-called cooperative societies which are interested in the success of this proposition are cooperative only in name, and others of them are in the position of a certain big so-called co-operative company in Sydney, the name of which I will not mention, which is really a joint stock company. It is true that the owners of the dairy produce which that company markets are shareholders in the company, but other shareholders are interested in other products. The company handles eggs, bacon, dressed poultry, and a dozen other products. What does the bacon-curer care about the interests of the butter man ? All he is interested in is obtaining the highest price possible for the butter sold in Australia. We are told that the export scheme proposed in this bill will stabilize the butter market, but when one realizes that Australia supplies only 15 per cent, of the butter requirements of Great Britain, it will be seen how impossible it is for this scheme to stabilize the industry. The suggestion that by forwarding our butter on consignment, which I suppose is what this scheme really means, we can stabilize the British market, is not worth considering. I am favorable to the butter producers getting as much as they can for their products. Their great trouble is the over-capitali zation of their land. I submit that real cooperative companies will reap no benefit, from this measure. Let us take as an illustration the Byron Bay Company, which is the largest butter producing concern! in the world. Is it represented in. the crowd of interested auditors: in the gallery of this chamber to-day? It is not. But the so-called co-operative concerns are represented. The Byron Bay Company early came to the conclusion that the methods adopted by many so-called co-operative companies were of no use to the producers, for the shareholders in such companies drew thousands of pounds in dividends from the sale of primary products for which they gave the producers no adequate return. The company, therefore, decided to be its own selling agent in both Australia and Great Britain. The board of ten will have upon it six representatives of the co-operative factories. It may delegate its authority to five members, and the representatives of the cooperative factories are not likely to allow their interests to be prejudiced. Without knowing very much about the business, I doubt if this bill will help the dairymen of Australia. I know that the Prime Minister has received telegrams from butter producers in different parts of Australia, protesting against its provisions. We contend that the butter producers of Australia should have an opportunity to decide, by a democratic vote, whether the scheme shall be adopted.
– I have no desire to delay the committee, but I wish to clear up a doubt that has been raised by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay),’ who has asked whether “ majority,” in the proviso, means a bare majority. That is what is contemplated. I trust, therefore, that the amendment of the honorable member for Capricornia will not be pressed to a division. After the discussion it is clear that there is a doubt whether those connected with the industry really desire the exportation of dairy produce, defined in this bill as including butter and cheese, to be controlled in the manner proposed. The only reason advanced why a poll should not be taken -is that it would involve delay. I can assure honorable members, however, that immediately the bill is passed the Government will take the necessary steps to ascertain the opinions of .the producers, and .as the poll may he taken at the factories supplied by them, there should not be any appreciable delay.
– It will mean a delay of at least three months.
– I have already indicated that as the word “producers “ is defined as meaning all persons carrying on business as suppliers of milk or cream to factories manufacturing dairy produce for export, it might be responsible for some delay, I, therefore, propose, when we reach that definition, to strike out the” words “ for export,” so that all suppliers of milk or cream to factories shall -be entitled to vote. Then the poll should not take long. I do not think there is any cause for apprehension that there will be delay likely to prejudice the success of the scheme, or to prevent effect being given to it immediately in the event of a majority of the producers deciding in favour of it.
– I strongly ‘support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde), for the reason that if, as is proposed in the clause, a vote of the producers is taken immediately, they will be voting on a scheme that will not have been put into operation, and of which they will have had no experience. The intention of the Government to take the vote at once is a confession of its own incompetence, and an indication of the futility of a composite ministry.
– Why this “ stone-wall “ of .the bill ?
– This is the first occasion en which .1 have spoken, whereas the honorable member for Lilley has : spoken ,at least three .times. The Government should stand up to its responsibility. It is an insult to honorable members to take up the time of this committee with a measure about which even the Prime Minister and ‘his -co-leader are not in agreement. Certainly there is no unanimity amongst their supporters. If legal members of the profession m this chamber cannot agree as to the interpretation of certain clauses in the bill, what possible chance -has a layman to satisfy himself as to their meaning1? A -vote of the producers will play into the hands of the shareholders of many so-called cooperative societies which are, in effect, joint-stock companies. We should .consider the man who .supplies milk or cream to the factory. If a ‘ vote is taken now there is no provision for another vote lat some future time. The producers .are not in a position, without having had experience 0I the scheme in operation, to say whether the proposed board of control should be appointed. The measure is designed to interfere -with the law of supply and demand. Denmark, which is the largest supplier of .the British market, has built up her reputation and consolidated her position in the British market without resorting to this expedient. The Farmer and Dairyman referring to this matter states that the practice of Denmark is to sell its butter week by week, irrespective of the condition of the market. There is no carry-over from one week to another, with the result that British consumers know that Danish butter is always fresh. These gentlemen who preach the doctrine of no interference with private enterprise or with the law of supply and demand; who do not believe in the -artificial regulation of wages by means of arbitration awards, now declare that, by means of this bill, the Government will regulate the supply of Australian butter to the British market, with the object of stabilizing prices, presumably, on the latter market. How can this be possible since Australia supplies only 1 lb. of every 8 lb. that is consumed in Great Britain ? An important factor in the consumption of butter is the condition in which it is marketed. In this respect Australia is at a disadvantage. Great Britain supplies herself, with approximately one-half of her home requirements, and Denmark, as all honorable members know, has built up an extensive and highly remunerative business with the British consumer. The following table of imports of butter to the United Kingdom for 1923 indicates that country’s .sources of supply: -
Great Britain herself in that year produced 1-01 ,334 tons. In the face of these figures honorable members opposite believe, apparently, that what is now proposed to be done will stabilize the butter market.
– The Australian butter market.
– Why has not this point been made clear? The stabilisation of the Australian butter market by this method will incur the hostility of the entire army of consumers, who fear an undue increase in the price of the local product.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I should like to see a quorum present. [Quorum farmed.] I spoke, Mr. Chairman-
Motion (by Mr. Manning) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided.
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted. (Mr. Forde’s amendment) stand part of the clause - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– The closure motion was carried as applying to the question “ That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause.”
– That will do me.
– On the point of order, I suggest, with respect, that, the closure motion having been carried, it applies not only to the amendment, but to the clause as well.
– Before the closure was moved the question before the committee was “ That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause.” Thatis the question which the committee decided should be put.
– Does not the closure cover the question before the Chair, and any amendment to it?
– It doesnot cover the whole clause.
– As the division which has just been taken has resulted in the defeat of the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde), and as that amendment was substantially the same as that of which I had given notice, it would be useless for me to persist with my amendment. I should, however, like some assurance that the Prime Minister will not shelve the whole business, but will see that the bill is brought into operation as soon as possible.
– I should like to know what is before the committee. The honorable member for Richmond rose in his place, I thought, with the intention of submitting an amendment to the committee for discussion. It appears now that it was merely in order to withdraw the amendment of which he gave notice.
.- I move-
That the words “ a majority of votes have been given “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ if GO per cent, of the producers voting vote.”
– On a point of order, 1 suggest that the honorable member’s amendment cannot be accepted, because the committee has just decided that the words which he proposes to omit shall stand part of the clause.
– On the point of order, I submit that as the- Chairman was prepared to consider the amendment of which notice was given by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green), he should be prepared also to consider my amendment.
– The honorable member cannot move an amendment upon words which the committee has decided shall stand part of the clause.
– Let the honorable member move an addition to the clause.
– I move-
That the following words be added to the clause : - “ such a majority to consist of not less than sixty per centum of the producers voting.”
I am very loth to let - this matter go without any discussion because it embodies a principle which is contained in bills to be subsequently considered, one of which has already been presented. I suggest that this is a convenient time to decide the principle which is to be adopted in connexion with these majorities. In the course of his speech the Prime Minister emphasized the fact that it is tlie producers who are concerned in this matter and not the Australian consumers, because this bill refers only to the export of dairy produce. There seems to be considerable doubt as to whether the persons who are chiefly concerned are in favour of the bill. The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) and the Prime Minister have admitted that they are not sure that a majority of the producers are in favour of the measure as it stands, and the latter also stated that “ convincing evidence “ should be brought forward that they were in favour of the bill. I suggest that the minority have some rights, and that those rights should be safeguarded in some way, particularly in view of the fact that government control is to apply on the side of the majority. It may be suggested that anything over 50 per cent, is a democratic majority, but I submit that it is not invariably so. It is well known that the rules of many societies provide that in matters of special importance, a majority greater than an absolute majority is necessary to carry a motion. Honorable members know also, that in the case of public companies the voting powers of shareholders are determined by the number of shares they hold, and not by the number of shareholders. There may be a relatively small number of shareholders who hold a majority of the shares, and who, therefore, have a majority of the votes. I remind honorable members that the Federal Constitution itself, which is perhaps the most democratic in the world, contains a section which provides that, before an alteration of that constitution is effected, not only must there be a majority of the electors of the Commonwealth in favour of it, but also a majority of the states. The reference to the producers is a rather unusual course to adopt in order to decide whether this legislation shall be brought into operation or not. Personally, I think that three-fourths of the producers should signify their acceptance of the Government’s proposals before effect is given to them, but the feeling generally is that 60 per cent, is a fairer proportion ; no one can say that that is unreasonable. I do not think that there is anything in my amendment which should -be objectionable to those honorable members who are in favour of the bill. As we are given to understand that a majority of the producers is in favour of these proposals, my amendment provides a safeguard which may not be necessary. I ask honorable members to give it careful consideration, especially as it is proposed that this principle shall apply not only to this particular industry, but also to other industries. It seems to me that it would be unwise to bring about such a drastic change by a bare majority of the votes cast.
.- I hope that the Government will not be persuaded by the eloquence of the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. DuncanHughes) to accept his amendment. It is contrary to the voting systems in operation in the states in connexion with various pools. I cannot understand any man who d esires to see this bill placed on the statute-book, and who professes to act in the interests of the dairy farmers of Australia, introducing an amendment of this nature, insisting on a 60 per cent. It is evident that the nationalist member for Boothby is voicing the opinions of other honorable members on his side of the House.
Mr.Corser. - Why does not the honorable member allow the question to be put to the vote?
– The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), who professes to be a friend of the farmers, has not the courage of his convictions as has the honorable member for Boothby. The honorable member some time ago moved the adjournment of the House to discuss the precarious condition of the dairying industry. He stated that he was in favour of a tribunal being appointed to fix the price of butter, then he opposed it.
Motion (by Mr. Corser) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided.
Majority . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment declared negatived.
When the motion “ That the question be now put “ has been carried, and the question consequent thereon has been decided, any further motion may be at once made which may be requisite to bring to a decision any question already proposed from the Chair; and also, if a clause be then under consideration a motion may be made, “ That the question,’ That certain words of the clause defined in the motion stand part of the clause,’ or ‘ That the clause stand part of or he added to the bill,’ be now put.” Such motions shall be put forthwith and decided without amendment or debate.
The question before the Chair is “ That clause 2 be agreed to.”
Prime Minister is agreed to, the committee will be placed in an absurd position. I cannot understand the Leader of the House contending that the motion “ That the question be now put “ covers, not only the amendment, but also the original question, “ That the clause be agreed to.” The question “ That the question be now put “ covers only the amendment immediately before the committee. If that were not so, then the closure having been applied as soon as an amendment to a clause had been submitted, no other amendment, however important, could be submitted.
When a motion has been agreed to, “That the question be now put,” it embraces not only any amendment before the Chair, but all steps necessary to bring the main question to a conclusion. That is provided for in the Standing Orders; and, for that reason, honorable members are now called upon to vote upon the question, “ That the Bill be now read a third time.”
Clause agreed to.
That the ruling of the Chairman be dissented from.
Question - That the ruling of the Chairman be dissented from - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause 3 -
In this act, unless the contrary intention appears - “ butter factory “ means any factory, which, during the year ended the thirtieth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and twenty-four, has manufactured not less than 26 tons of butter; “ cheese factory “ means any factory which, during the year ended the thirtieth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and twenty-four, has manufactured not less than fifty-two tons of cheese. “producers “ means persons carrying on business as suppliers of milk or cream to factories manufacturing dairy produce for export;
– I move -
That the definitions of “ butter factory “
And” cheese factory “ be left out, and the following definition be inserted in lieu thereof : - “ ‘ butter factory ‘ and ‘ cheese factory ‘ respectively mean, in relation to any election under this act, any factory which, during the year ended the thirtieth day of June last preceding the election, has manufactured not less than twenty-six tons of butter or cheese as the case may be. “
Under a strict interpretation of the definition of “butter factory” any factory that subsequent to the 30th June of this year manufactured more than 26 tons of butter would not come within the scope of the bill; and since this measure will probably remain on the statute-book for a number of years, no new factories would be able to come under its operation. I have reduced the quantity of cheese mentioned to 26 tons, because cheese factories are generally established in outlying districts before butter factories are erected. A cheese factory can be established at considerably less cost than a butter factory, and in the majority of cases they are erected until there is sufficient production to justify the establishment of a butter factory.
.- The Government has no objection to the amendment, since it states clearly that the provisions of the measure shall be applicable to a factory which in any year subsequent to 1924 produces the quantity of butter or cheese mentioned. This may be said to be left in some doubt under the clause as it stands. The minimum quantity of cheese has been reduced from52 to 26 tons, and the Government accepts the amendment.
.- I point out that there used to be a number of small factories in Victoria producing less than 26 tons of butter a year. I have known of farmers who manufactured their own cheese, and they would be excluded under the amendment. No producer, no matter how small his output, should be excluded from the benefits of the bill. I recollect a small factory near the town of Daylesford which used to be worked only when milk was most plentiful, and it did not turn out, annually, more than about 20 tons of butter, most of which was exported.
– The measure will apply to practically the whole of the producers of Australia, but the operations of the board will not extend to those producers who make only a small quantity of butter or cheese, and do not supply any recognized factory.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to-
That the words “ for export “, in the definition of “producers” be omitted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4 - (1.) For the purposes of this act there shall be a Dairy Produce Control Board. (2.) The board shall consist of -
Providedthat anelected member may be removed from office by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the board. (8.) On the death, resignation, or removal from office of an electedmember of the board, the Governor-General may, on therecommendation of the board, appoint a person to hold the vacant office for the residue of the term ofthe elected member. (9.) The powers conferred on the board by this act shall notbe affected by reason only of there beinga vacancy inthe membership thereof.
In view of a previous decision of the committee itwill be necessary for me to alter the amendment that has been circulated in my name. I move -
That clause 4 be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following new clause: - (1.) For the purposes of this act there shall be a Dairy Produce Control Board. (2.) The board shall consist of -
one member (in this act referred to as “ the Government representative”) who shall be appointed by the Governor -General as the representative of the Commonwealth Government ;
nine representatives elected by producers supplying co-operative butter and cheese factories; comprising two each in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland respectively, and one each in South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia respectively: Provided that one of the representatives from New South Wales,Victoria, and Queensland respectively,shall be a producer; and
tworepresentatives elected by producers supplying proprietary butterand cheese factories.
Mr.R. Green. - I rise to a point of order. I have given notice of an amendment of clause 4 in the terms of the amendment which the honorable member for Capricornia is now submitting. My amendment is in print.
– (Sir Neville Howse). - The point of order raised by the honorable member cannot be upheld.
– I submitted last Thursday the amendments that were circulated in my name. When the amendment that I have just moved is disposed of, it will not be necessary for me to move subsequentamendments of which I have given notice. ‘ The amendments by the honorable member for Richmond were handed to the Clerk after notice of mine, which cover the whole question, had been given. The bill in its present form provides that there shall be one representative of each state, who shall be elected by the boards of directors of co-operative butter and cheese factories in those states. I am endeavouring to provide that the states that are large producers of butter and cheese shalleach have two representatives and that one in each of those states shall be elected by the producers themselves. Election by the producers will be much more democratic than election by boards of directors. The election of these representatives can be carried out at the same time that a vote is taken to decide whether this scheme is acceptable tothe primary producers. ‘The omission of paragraph d will do away with the representation of Tooley-street on the board. It is not necessary to have that representative,and I cannot understand why such a provision was inserted in the bill. Theconstitution of the board proposed by the Government is not acceptable toQueensland, which produces 60 per cent, of the cheese exported. If only one representative is appointed to the board from each of the states of Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria, that representative will probably be an official. Whilst recognizing the necessity for having the business side of the industry represented on the board, Iwant tosay that it will be dominated by officials oftheco-operative butter and cheese factories. A board comprising two representatives from Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria, will be very strong on the business side, in addition to being thoroughly representative of the primary producers. The states of South. Australia,Western Australia, and Tasmania have each only one representative upon similar boards, whilst the other three states which are the largest producers, invariably have two representatives each. In Western Australia comparatively little butter is produced, and none for export. The smaller states, at interstate conferences, have accepted the principle that preponderating representation must be given to the states that are the largest producers. Western Australia is not yet an exporting state. I contend that proprietary interests, both manufacturing and selling, should be satisfied with two of the twelve representatives on the board. We are endeavouring to help not the proprietary companies, but the dairy farmers of Australia, and I do not think that the Government need make any apology for giving a preponderating representation to the primary producers. I think that all honorable members can agree to the amendment, because the finance required to enable the board to carry on its operations will come not out of the pockets of the taxpayers, but out of the dairying industry itself. I am expressing the wish of all who represent cooperative control, and honorable members who believe in co-operation for the dairy farmers should support the views that 1 have expressed.
I cannot understand why my point of order was not upheld. The honorable member for Capricornia withdrew the whole of the amendment of which he had given notice, and in its place moved another that had not been printed and circulated.
– I merely altered the wording of the amendment which I had circulated.
– My amendment was already in print. I am opposed to the honorable member’s amendment. I gave notice that I intended to move for the deletion of paragraphb of sub-clause 2 of the clause, and the amendment of which the honorable member for Capricornia had given notice, having been withdrawn, I submit my amendment should now be considered.
– The honorable member can move his amendment when the amendment of the honorable member for Capricornia has been disposed of.
– That does not satisfy me, sir. Clause 4 is one of the most vital in the bill.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.On looking into the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Capricornia, I find that it is not in order, for it proposes to omit the whole clause, and to replace it by exactly similar words down to the end of paragraph a of sub-clause 2. His amendment being out of order to that extent, I shall put the clause to the committee in paragraphs.
Sub-clause 1 agreed to.
Sub-clause 2 -
The Board shall consist of -
one member (in this act referred to as “the Government representative”) who shall be appointed by the Governor-General as the representative of the Commonwealth Government;
Mr.Forde. - On a point of order, I wish to know whether, after paragraph a is disposed of, my amendment to paragraph 6 will be submitted.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.That is the course. I shall take.
– I object to a board of ten. It would be too unwieldy and too costly. The Government should reconsider its proposal in this respect. A board of six, composed of a Government representative and five others, would be large enough. The states which do not produce butter and cheese for export should not be represented on the board.
– The only point at present before the committee is whether there shall be a representative of the Government on the board, and the honorable member is not in order in discussing anything more than that.
.- In view of the decision of the committee with regard to the taking of polls, I ask the Prime Minister whether he is willing to amend this clause to provide that the producers shall elect the representatives on the board when the polls are being taken, rather than that they shall be appointed by the directors of co-operative companies.
– The honorable member is not in order in asking that question at this stage.
Sub-clause 2, paragraph a, agreed to.
Sub-clause 2, paragraph b -
One representative of each state elected by the boards of directors of co-operative butter and cheese lactones in that state;
Amendment (by Mr. Forde) proposed -
That paragraph (6) be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following : -
nine representatives elected by the producers supplying co-operative butter and cheese factories; comprising two each in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland respectively, and one each in South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia respectively ;
Provided that one of the representatives from New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland respectively shall be a producer; and
– On a point of order, I submit that my amendment to paragraph b should have precedence.
– I have already ruled that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Capricornia is entitled to precedence.
.- I consider that the board should be composed of seven members, namely, one representative of the Commonwealth Government and one representative from each state. The clause provides for a board of ten members, and both the honorable member for Capricornia and the honorable member for Richmond desire that the number shall be increased to thirteen.
– I want twelve members on the board.
– A board of that size would be too cumbersome, and would be likely to prove too expensive to the producers. I would be quite satisfied if paragraphs c and d of sub-clause 2 were deleted. Since the bill has been framed ostensibly in the interests of producers, why should we legislate in the interests of selling agents? A board of seven would be more efficient than a board of ten, and certainly more efficient than the unwieldy board suggested by the honorable member for Capricornia.
.- Although I agree with the proposal of the honorable member for Capricornia that the board should include nine representatives of suppliers of co-operative butter and cheese factories, I cannot accept his proposal that the producers shall elect the board, nor his proposal that one representative of New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland respectively shall be a producer. This may appear strange and undemocratic, but if the honorable member had attended the recent interstate conference as a delegate he would have known that the principle in the first proposal was rejected for the very good reason that as the boards of directors of cooperative factories are themselves elected by suppliers, it is reasonable to assume that they enjoy the confidence of the producers. In addition they are more likely to be in touch with desirable candidates for election to the board as representatives of the producers. The ordinary dairy farmer has not this advantage. It will be very difficult, indeed, to keep a roll of the butter producers of Australia up to date in readiness for an election if, as is proposed, members of the board are to be elected every two years. The expenses of a Commonwealth-wide election will be out of all proportion to the advantages of such a course. The personnel of the board is the crux of the whole question. If we insist that one representative of each of the three big butter -producing states on the board shall be a producer, I am afraid that we shall not achieve the best results.
– Does the honorable member deny that producers have the ability to sit on the board?
– No, but it may be very difficult indeed to ensure the election of the most satisfactory board. It is quite possible for a producer to be elected, and for one or both from any of the states to be a producer. The proposal was rejected by the interstate conference for very obvious reasons. Therefore, I cannot support it. When it is disposed of I propose to submit an amendment of which I have given notice.
– I cannot accept the amendment. The Government has given a great deal of consideration to this question. The object, in framing this clause, was to get the numbers within the smallest possible compass. We felt that an unwieldy board would not prove so efficient as a smaller body. But since the bill was drafted, the Government has received representations from producers urging that the number of representatives of cooperative butter and cheese factories be increased. In support of this claim it was pointed out that there are three great exporting states, and three which, at present, export but very little. The bill provides that each of the states shall have equal representation on the board. The Government believes that greater confidence will be given to the producers if the representation is increased to embrace an additional member from each of the states of Queensland. New South Wales, and. Victoria, as proposed by the amendment moved by the honorable member for Capricornia. The Government is therefore prepared to accept that portion of the amendment, but not the proposal that the board shall be elected by the producers. Although this may be a very admirable and democratic principle, yet it is faced with grave difficulties, because the representative men in the industry would possibly be unknown to the producers in the different districts. The directors of the cooperative companies are elected by the cooperators in the different districts, andconsequently directly represent the producers; therefore the election, although confined to the directors, would really be controlled by the producers themselves. The directors would be in a better position to know the relative merits of the different persons applying for appointment to the board, and consequently the Government feels that it is much more desirable that, the election should be confined to them. The Government is prepared to accept the amendment in so far as it contemplates an increase in the representation of New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland, but not the proposal for the election to be held by the producers themselves. This will practically conform to the amendment to be moved by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green). I suggest that the honorable member for Capricornia withdraw paragraph 6 of the amendment and allow the honorable member for Richmond to insert his proposal in its place.
.- I wish to ask the Prime Minister if »he number of representatives proposed in the bill was agreed upon and suggested to the Government by a duly convened conference ?
– The number of representatives which appears in the bill includes one nominee to be appointed by the Government, six by the co-operative factories, two by the proprietary companies, and one to be a representative of the sellers of dairy produce overseas. That proposal has not been approved by, nor has it been included in the bill at the recommendation of any conference representing dairying interests. The conference which was held in Melbourne proposed the appointment of a board comprising, I think, fifteen or seventeen members.
– It was seventeen altogether.
– The Government felt that that number was too large. The proprietary companies and the Chamber of Commerce made various suggestions, but none of them is identical with the proposal embodied in the bill. The Government endeavoured as far as possible to follow generally the suggestions that had been made to reduce the number of representatives on the board so that it would not be unwieldy and ineffective. The proposal that the Government is now prepared to accept will increase the number by three. The Government felt that even a board of ten members would be unwieldy, and in a later clause there is provision for the appointment of an executive. It is not contemplated that the board of control will be constantly meeting; it will merely be a body to which the producers will look as the final and determining authority respecting the powers granted under the bill.
– I disagree both with the Government’s proposal and with the amendment moved by the honorable member for Capricornia. This Government, since it has been in office, has done nothing but appoint expensive and unwieldy boards. It now proposes to establish another. Even if this proposal were agreed to, it would be impossible to obtain in the Commonwealth the requisite number of dairy experts to be appointed to the board. During the first twelve months the operations of the board would largely consist of inquiries respecting possible markets. The Prime Minister, when introducing the bill, referred to the New Zealand act, on which he said the bill was in many respects modelled. The New Zealand board was established either early this year or late last year, and in respect of its operation the following paragraph, headed “ Policy not fixed ; delegation to Europe,” appeared in the Nev) Zealand Dairyman, dated the 20th February, 1924: -
The most important matter discussed at the meeting of tin’s board was the future policy, and after mature consideration it was unanimously decided that before any definite policy could be adopted very full and complete investigation of the markets of Canada, United States of America, and Europe should be made by a delegation consisting of three members of the board. The personnel of the delegation would be decided at the next meeting, and the itinerary would be fixed, and a schedule be prepared of matters requiring particular investigation. The delegation obviously could not get through the work and return to New Zealand before October, and it was therefore doubtful whether any form of control would be exercised over butter and its export during the next season.
That is the experience of New Zealand. A board of control was appointed, and it held a meeting in February, 1924. Yet there will be no control over the coming season’s production, because the board has not investigated possible markets. It is ridiculous to suggest that twelve members should be appointed to a board of control, which during the next twelve months can do nothing else than investigate overseas markets. It would be much preferable to have a small competent board.
– The bill provides for the appointment of a small executive.
– Then appoint the executive, and not the board. Successful businesses are conducted, not by a large number . of managers, but by a few capable men. Whilst it may be possible to secure the services of three or of five first-rate men to control the industry, if a large number of members are appointed to the board there will be some amongst them who are not experts, or even first class men in the business. I was surprised to hear the Prime Minister state that he is not prepared to allow the producers to elect the members of the board. He is prepared to send this bill to them for acceptance or rejection, but he is not prepared to permit them to elect the board, whose duty it will be to administer the measure. It is strange that members of this Parliament, who are elected by the people, should refuse to trust the dairy farmers, with the election of the members of this board which will have- autocratic powers in the disposition of their produce. The board will be able to mortgage it, to insure it, or not, as it thinks fit, and to sell it where, when, or for what price it pleases. It is opposed to all the principles of democracy to refuse to permit the men who are producing butter to say who shall be members of the board appointed to control its export. I cannot approve of the amendments of the honorable members for Capricornia and Richmond, or of the proposal of the Government. They pander to the fetish of state rights. Why should Queensland have separate representation from New South Wales on the board ? What is the difference between the butter producer in Queensland and the man producing butter in New South Wales, Victoria, or South Australia? The proposals made would keep alive state jealousies.
– Not at all.
– Would not the honorable member, if a member “of the board, deal as conscientiously with butter produced in Queensland as with butter produced in South Australia, the state from which he comes?
– A much greater quantity is produced in some states than in others.
– But the whole production intended for export will be under the control of the board, and will be dealt with, not as Queensland butter, or as New South Wales butter, but as Australian butter. If the principle of state rights is introduced in the constitution of the board, it will prevent it taking a broad view of its duty, because state jealousies will be allowed to creep in. We have seen this in connexion with a measure before the chamber which has still to be dealt with, and in connexion with which it. has been stated that it involves an assault upon the rights of Victoria. I hope that this bill will not be overloaded by the appointment of an unwieldy board. The Commonwealth Bank was carried on for years under the control of one man. It was never suggested that there should be state representation on the board of control of that bank. There is not state representation on the Shipping Board, or on other boards that could be mentioned. I am opposed to the amendments of the honorable members for Capricornia and Richmond, and when they are disposed of it is my intention to move the omission of paragraph b of subclause 2 with a view to insert in its place -
Under my amendment we should trust the people most concerned to elect the right men to the board. “With the representative of the Commonwealth Government provided for in paragraph a, and the repesentative provided for in paragraph d, my amendment would make provision for a board of five. We should be able to secure a board of five efficient administrators. The board proposed by the bill, and by the amendments which have been suggested, would prove unwieldy and expensive, “and the burden of its cost would be placed on the backs of the suppliers of milk and cream to the butter and cheese factories.
.- The object of the bill is to constitute a board which will deal with such matters as financing and marketing, and will not deal with the production of dairy produce at all. It is for. this reason that under clause 4, paragraphs 6 and c, it is proposed that the members of the board shall be elected by the directors of two classes of factories. But there is nothing whatever to prevent those directors electing producers to positions on the board if they think fit. The directors are concerned with getting the best price for the products, and prima facie they are much more skilled in matters of marketing and finance than are the producers themselves. Many of them are producers, and are chosen by the dairy farmers to look after the commercial side of the butter business. It appears to me, therefore, that they are the proper persons to make the selection. For that reason I am unable to support the amendment.
.- Some of the gentlemen mentioned by the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) as being the commercial leaders of the cooperative societies, have themselves expressed the desire to have producers on the board. They have pointed out that very important decisions may have to be made, and that in many instances they themselves are only the servants of the societies, and not members. They believe that it would considerably strengthen their hands if on such occasions they had with them one of the actual producers.
I was surprised to hear the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) say that, possibly, the producers would not know the men for whom they were asked to vote. Yet the right honorable gentleman proposes to ask them to vote on this bill. If he is satisfied that the dairy producers are capable of giving an intelligent vote regarding the bill, I am equally satisfied that they will know the best men in their own state connected with the butter industry, and will be able to elect proper representatives to the board. The dairymen desire to have a voice in the electionof the board. The position in South Australia is different from that of any other state, in that 70 per cent, of the butter is manufactured by proprietary companies, and not by cooperative companies. Under this bill the suppliers of 70 per cent, of South Australian butter will have to take “potluck.” It is quite possible that “Victoria, with double the number of proprietary factories, will be able to elect both the representatives of the proprietary factories, so that unless the producers themselves have the right to elect representatives on the board, the suppliers of butter and cream to the South Australian factories will be left without representation. In South Australia there is also a Government butter factory. Under these proposals, where do the dairymen who supply that factory come in? Will it be considered a proprietary company or a co-operative company? It seems to me that, unless the producers are given a vote, those who supply the Government factory in South Australia will be left without representation on the board. I have a letter here from a gentleman who, until recently, was the president of the Dairymen’s Association of South Australia, although. I believe that at the last election for president he was defeated by a Labour member of Parliament. In this letter he speaks for the dairymen of South Australia when he says -
We ask that, as it is our produce that is being dealt with, the dairymen should elect the two members of the board by ballot. The dairymen of South Australia have no faith in any proprietary factory owner. As a matter of fact, the Government had to build a factory so that the state could protect the dairymen from the merchant. The suppliers of this factory will be absolutely unrepresented if the members of the board are to be selected as proposed. In all the other states the dairymen are only organized in co-operative butter and cheese companies. It is different in South
Australia, where for two years we have had a Dairymen’s Association with about 1,000 meinbers already enrolled, and we will have all the dairymen in before the two years are up for the proposed board of control.
On behalf of the 1,000 men organized in the dairying industry in South Australia, many of whom under this bill will be absolutely without representation, I appeal to the committee to allow the producers to have a say as to who small constitute the board. If I can obtain the support of one member in a call for a division, there will be at least two to say that the producers shall elect the members of the board of control.
– I .am sorry that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has seen fit to alter his original intention as set out in this bill. The board, as proposed to be constituted under the bill, was more likely to be satisfactory than the larger and more cumbersome one which it is now proposed to elect under the amendment to which the right honorable gentleman has a.greed. It might appear to be unfair to give the same representation to the states which produce small quantities of butter as is proposed to be given to Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria, but there is a possibility that the production of butter in those states will before long be increased considerably. There is a good deal in the contention of the honorable members for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham) and Denison (Mr. O’Keefe), that a board can be too cumbersome. If we were to have a board of ten, as originally suggested, there would be six representatives of the co-operative factories, who would have an absolute majority; but at the same time the other interests would be represented. Success depends entirely on the personnel of the board. Unless we get a board representative of all branches of the indus-. try, it will not be a success. We had a very good representative pool control committee, which did valuable work during the war period. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Watson) was one of them. Some of the most valuable men on that committee were men connected with the trade. It is all very well to speak of the producers having representation. I am a producer, and know something about this matter. In New South Wales we had to elect a representative on- the Wheat Pool. I say unhesitatingly that the man whom we selected would never have been chosen if we had had a chance to know something about him personally. The rank and file have no knowledge of these men. We are more likely to secure the services of men who will work genuinely for the success of the scheme if they are elected by the directors of the cooperative companies, who. are in turn elected by their own suppliers, .than if we adopt the cumbersome and expensive process of leaving the choice to a vote of the suppliers themselves. The suppliers might elect men who know the dairying industry perfectly well, but there would be no guarantee that the men so chosen would know anything about overseas marketing. One of the causes of the early failure of the co-operative movement was the selection of directors who did not understand the business they Ifad to carry on. Honorable members on both sides must recognize that to make a success of this bill, it is essential that its administration shall be placed in the hands of business men. If good business men can be secured among the producers themselves, they will stand just as much chance of being elected by the directors of the co-operative factories as they would if the matter were left to a vote of the rank and file. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) spoke of the proprietary companies in South Australia, but their number is negligible.
– We have in South Australia three times as many proprietary companies as there are in New South Wales.
– There are hardly any proprietary dairy factories in New South Wales, and there are none in Queensland.
– There are three in Queensland.
– If there are three in Queensland, the number is so. small that their votes will not count. The overwhelming voting strength of the proprietary dairy companies will be in Victoria, and, therefore, the Victorian proprietary factories will elect the two representatives of the proprietary companies on the board.
– We shall ask for the honorable member’s support for an amendment to obviate that.
– If the Prime Minister had given way, there would have been a board of thirteen. I quite endorse the words of the honorable member for Richmond, that if we are to get a good board it must be directly elected by the directors of the co-operative companies.
– I am sorry that the Prime Minister could not accept my amendment. It differs from the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Richmond by providing that the nine representatives of the producers shall be elected by the producers instead of bv the directors of the co-operative butter and cheese factories, as proposed by him, and that one of the representatives from the three eastern states respectively shall be a producer. Although I am sorry that the Prime Minister is not prepared to allow the suppliers to elect their representatives on the board, I am pleased that he has accepted the suggestion for increasing the number of representatives of the producers as proposed in my amendment, and also that of the honorable member for Richmond. In a democratic country, no one would contend that such a vital question as who should represent them on an important board, should not be submitted to a vote of the people concerned. In Queensland, all the men who have taken a prominent part in the establishment of co-operative butter and cheese factories, and their subsequent control, are well known. Among a small coterie of directors of co-operative factories it is easy for a certain amount of log rolling to be done, with the result that the best nien, may not be elected. On the other hand, the producers know the men who possess business acumen and the best experience, and I am sure the best decision would be arrived at by trusting the people who supply the cream to make the choice. I regret that the Prime Minister could not agree to this fundamental principle. I do not agree with the contention that the proposed board will be too cumbersome. It will only mean twelve for the whole of Australia. By the same line of reasoning honorable members might contend that the number of members of the House of Representatives could be cut down by onehalf. The board proposed to be created will have many difficulties confronting it. It will be necessary to have the best brains representative of the dairy farmers in Australia to overcome those difficulties, and I am sure that twelve men sitting at a table and talking a matter over will come to a better decision than three men possibly could. The proposal to have a board of twelve is no departure from the New Zealand act, which provides for two Government representatives, nine repre sentatives of the primary producers appointed -by the Governor-General after election in the manner provided, and one member representing Tooley-street, in London. The method of election provided in the act is as follows : -
Of the producers’ representatives, six shall be elected in the prescribed manner by direct vote of the producers carrying on business in the North Island, and three shall be similarly elected by producers carrying on business in the South Island.
It will be noted that North Island has six representatives, because of its greater importance, and South Island only three representatives. We ask that the dairy farmers of Australia supplying cooperative factories shall be given the same representation as in New Zealand, namely, nine members on the board. 1” am pleased that the Prime Minister has agreed to this. Some honorable members have raised objection to the proposal that the three eastern states should have two representatives each, but when the matter is considered on the basis of the quantity of butter produced, there can be no objection to the proposal. The total production of butter in the eastern states is as follows: - New South Wales, 67,838 tons; Victoria, 74,704 tons; Queensland, 51,199 tons; a total of 193,741 tons. , Then we find that Tasmania produces 5,905 tons; Western Australia 2,422 tons; and South Australia, 13,042 tons; or a total of 21,369 tons for the three smaller states. The three eastern states of the mainland produced ten times as much butter as is produced by the other three, therefore, the two to one representation given to them is not too much. The three large butter producing states have 236 co-operative factories, and 84 proprietary factories. The other three states, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia have 34 cooperative factories, and 39 proprietary factories. I think Queensland has only three proprietary factories. I appeal to honorable members not to be too niggardly in the granting of representation. The representatives of the dairy farmers, who believe in co-operative control, have asked for a board constituted as I have proposed in my amendment, and I hope that if honorable members cannot achieve their desire to have the board elected by the producers, they will accept the nine representatives proposed by the honorable member for Richmond.
– I understand that the proposed board will have power to compel factories to export a proportion of their butter.
– The board will not be able to do that.
– I believe that that is the desire, and I should like the Prime Minister to say definitely whether the board will have the power under this bill to compel factories to export a portion of their butter whether or not they so desire.
– The board will not have any such power.
– Will the factories who sell their butter direct to buyers in Australia have the right to continue to do so ?
. The clause provides that one representative shall be given to South Australia, and presumably he will be elected by the co-operative factories. In that state practically all the cheese factories are cooperative, and the butter factories are proprietary, and either one or the other will be without representation. I shall be obliged to move that one of the representatives of the proprietary interests shall be from South Australia, or that both those representatives shall not be elected from one state. The members of the board should be elected by all suppliers, otherwise the large number of producers who supply the Government factory in South Australia will have no representation. Therefore, I shall move later that the South Australian representative shall be elected by both proprietary and co-operative factories ; alternatively, that that state shall have direct representation of the proprietary interests. I am not in favour of unwieldy boards, but, considering the magnitude of the industry, I fail to see how adequate representation could be secured by a board smaller than that provided for under the amendment.
– Does the Government propose to accept the amendment in favour of two representatives from each of the states of Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria?
. -There is a danger of having too unwieldy a board, and considering the salaries to be paid, a large expenditure will be involved. I agree to each of the large producing states - Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria - having two representatives, but I do not think that South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania would be greatly inconvenienced if they had no direct representation.
– Then Western Australia would not come under the operation of the bill.
– Western Australia does not produce sufficient butter for its own requirements. The factories in Western Australia, South Australia, and Tasmania are mostly proprietary companies, and it would be equitable if they were represented in conjunction with the proprietary interests of the other states by two members. Then there could be. a representative of the selling interests and a representative of the Commonwealth, making a board of ten,- which would be sufficient. Much time would be saved and inconvenience avoided if the directors of the factories were called upon to elect the representatives of the producers, for the latter could not be expected to be familiar with the qualifications of the men nominated.
Question - That the amendment (Mr. Forde’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Mr.R. GREEN (Richmond) [11.10]. - I move -
That paragraph b of sub-clause 2 be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following paragraph: - “ (6) two representatives of each of the states of Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria, and one representative of each of the states of Tasmania, South Australia, and Western Australia elected by the boards of directors of co-operative butter and cheese factories in each of those states.”
I am very glad that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has accepted the amendment. Telegrams that I have received may be of interest to honorable members. One from Mr. Clifford, General Manager of the North Coast Co-operative Company, Byron Bay, reads -
Have wired Prime Minister as follows : - “My directors understand it is proposed to alter representation of states on Export Control Board. As large co-operative manufacturers, with 2,500 suppliers, and an output of 8,000 tons butter annually, we strongly urge you to give the representation askedfor in the scheme placed before you by the interstate conference.”
Another from Mr. P. Bartlett, Alston- ville, reads -
Have wired the Prime Minister as follows: - “ Our association, representing 21 butter factories, Northern Rivers, New South Wales, with 5,000 suppliers and turn-over 20,000 tons butter annually, protest against inadequate representation co-operative interest as now suggested, and crave your adherence to previous decision interstate conference regarding representation on board to be elected inrespect to dairying export control.”
In addition, I have received the following telegram from Mr. Dunlop, Primary Producers’ Union, Sydney -
Committee elected by co-operative and proprietary dairy factories of this statestrongly oppose reduction of representation of control board agreed upon at interstate conference. Urge two representatives for each three large producing states.
I suggest to the Prime Minister that when the rules governing the election of representatives to the boards are being framed the output of the different factories be taken as the basis for deciding the number of votes which each company shall have. If that is not done, a company that has 1,500 suppliers may have only one vote, and will be outvoted by three companies, each of which has 500 suppliers, because they would have three votes.
.- I have listened with interest to the remark of the honorable member for Richmond and I fail to understand the amendment that he has moved. His arguments, however, were apparently so effective that they induced the Prime Minister to accept the amendment without giving to this committee his reasons for doing so.
– I gave the reasons earlier in the debate.
– Then they must have been obscured by the arguments that were subsequently raised by the honorable member for Richmond. Having convinced the Prime Minister, “ under the lap “ of the House, that the amendment should be accepted, the honorable member for Richmond was not satisfied with his victory. He had to make a long speech to expedite the passage of the amendment. I feel that I shall be acting in the interests of the honorable member, of the Byron Bay district in particular, and of the country generally, if I emphasize the importance of the amendment. I understand that its purpose is to enable certain producers to be given two representatives. If any deduction can be drawn from the speech just made by the honorable member for Richmond, it is that he is not prepared to give the producers of Australia any representation on the board. He is not taking a broad, national view of the matter, but is still limited to the narrow, parochial state outlook. There are 154,000 dairy producers in Australia, of whom 87 per cent, are in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland, the figures for those three states being, 42,000, 56,000, and 35,000 respectively. In the great speech which the Prime Minister made yesterday at the Nationalist conference he stressed the necessity for democratizing the Nationalist party. According to him, the Nationalist party was dying, and the only thing that could save. its life was democratization. He is proceeding to democratize it by accepting an amendment to this clause which will deny the dairy producers any representation on the board. The men who work the dairy farms and are the backbone of the industry, are to have no voice in the disposal of their products.
– Whata circus !
– The honorable member is a good judge of circuses. It is nothing but his verbosity that has brought me to my feet, and I can assure him that I shall be just as exuberant in the early hours of the morning as I am now. I submit that the representation ‘on the board will be on an altogether inequitable basis if the amendment is agreed to. Western Australia, South Australia, and Tasmania export very little dairy produce, and yet they are to be given substantial representation on the board. Ninety per cent, of the dairy produce exported from Australia goes from Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland. I cannot understand how the Prime Minister can harmonize his recently expressed views on the democratizing of the Nationalist party with the proposed representation on the dairy export control board. Neither he nor the honorable member for Richmond is taking a broad national view of the subject. The Prime Minister, like myself, wishes to save this country from the extremes of reactionary conservatism and of reactionary communism. I intend to read, for honorable members’ information, extracts from what may be regarded as a confidential communication addressed to the right honorable gentleman by the Kerang Co-operative Butter Factory, which is hostile to the measure, as, indeed, the Prime Minister is. He does not believe in it in a broad national sense, but only because he has to comply with the wishes of the blackmailers. We all appreciate the position in which the Prime Minister finds himself. Do we not see the honorable members for Richmond, Cowper, and New England holding him up and demanding blackmail? The Prime Minister is inundated with communications from allparts of the country objecting to the bill. Of course, he does not take us into his confidence, and, therefore, I wish to place on record this interesting statement from the Kerang Cooperative Butter Factory -
We wired to you this afternoon as follows : - “ We respectfully and emphatically protest against giving control of our business to any board. We desire freedom to sell our surplus at f.o.b. prices.”
How scandalous it is that healthy competition should be eliminated by an act of this Government ! We could understand the wild hare-brained and longhaired revolutionary “ scoundrels “ on this side of the committee desiring to eliminate public competition, but surely never this Government ! Nevertheless, that is what the Government is doing in this bill. Ministers are driven, not by their principles, but by the necessities of the hour, because they have to look for their support not to honorable members behind them, but to honorable ‘members in the corner, who take advantage of the fact that they hold the balance of power, and, in the language of the Prime Minister, levy this specious blackmail upon the Government. I object to the proposal of the honorable member for Richmond, and to the acceptance of it by the Prime Minister. This great industry should not be controlled by a board representative of the areas within state boundaries ; its economic interests should be studied. The Prime Minister has denounced the Russian sovietism. What is its aim? . Its purpose, first of all, is to ensure economic, instead of political, control of industry. That is the basis of the Russian revolution. It swept away the rule of great industries by politicians, and substituted for it rule by experts. This bill makes a concession to that principle, but the amendment of the honorable member for Richmond will have the effect of taking the control of the industry away from the real producers of the commodity and placing it in the hands of the actual exporters-.
– I call attention to the state of the committee. [Quorum formed. ]
-The different interests should be represented on the board of control. There is a wide diversity of opinion respecting its constitution. At Tallangatta, in the district of the honorable member for Indi. (Mr. Cook), who is an expert in pig culture, a butter factory has been established. That factory sends half of its output to persons who consign it direct to London. The other half is sold to firms under the f.o.b. arrangement. Last year the factory made £900 more out of the f.o.b. arrangement than it did out of the process of consigning. As a result, large numbers of dairy farmers prefer to accept the f.o.b. price without speculating on the London market. Under the bill the f.o.b. arrangement will be absolutely destroyed.
– That is not so.
– I challenge the honorable member to prove his statement. As a matter of fact, in New Zealand, under the board of control, the f.o.b. system was destroyed. The f.o.b. buyers there, because of the uncertainty of supplies, dared not enter into a contract with oversea buyers for the delivery of 1,000 cwt. of butter. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) knows very well that the Navigation Committee, during its investigations, was informed that contracts could not be entered into unless supplies were assured. Under this bill the board will have power to refuse supplies to f.o.b. buyers, because it will control all oversea produce.
– The honorable member’s time has expired .
– I foreshadowed an amendment when I spoke previously on this subject. I then gave sufficient and adequate reasons why it should be inserted in the bill. This Government is supposed to be an economy administration, anxious to exercise economy not only in Government departments, but also in off-shoots of those departments. In order that the board proposed to be created by this bill may be economical in its administration, I propose to reduce its number to three. Therefore I move -
That the amendment be amended by leaving out the word “ two “, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ three and by leaving out all the words after “ representatives, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ elected by the producers of butter and cheese in the Commonwealth.”
The experience of the New Zealand board was that, during the first twelve months, it was busily engaged in investigating the possibilities of markets-overseas. I should like to have a quorum present to hear my r em arks. [Quorum formed.] To recognize state boundaries in the election of members of the board is only to play into the hands of the parochialists, and to. keep alive those state jealousies which it was thought would be no longer continued or fostered after the formation of the Commonwealth.
Question - ‘That the amendment (Mr. Cunningham’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . 20
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the amendment (Mr. R. Green’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . 19
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 12.10 a.m. to 1240 a.m.
Wednesday, 24 September
– I move -
That paragraph (c) be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof “ (c) two representatives elected by producers supplying proprietary butter and cheese factories.”
That will give to the producers the right to elect representatives to the proposed board. I think it will be agreed that no persons are more entitled to that right. I hope that the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), who represents many dairy farmers, will accept this extension of the democratic principle of trusting those who are vitally interested. In nearly every proprietary butter factory of which I have a knowledge, the producer is not represented on the board of management.
– What will be the position of those producers who supply both co-operative and proprietary companies?
– They would have a vote in respect to one or the other. The claim that the directors are the best persons to elect representatives to the board cannot be substantiated. The people are trusted in the wider sphere of politics. Why, then, should they be denied their rights in this circumscribed sphere? The amendment is in harmony with that which I moved earlier, which was not accepted.
– I do not know that the honorable member has much chance of inducing the committee to accept the amendment, in view of the vote that was recorded on the amendment that he previously moved. By clause 5 it is provided that the election of members of the board may be held on the same day as that appointed for the taking of a poll to ascertain whether the dairymen are favorable to this scheme. That disposes of the bogy raised by various members of the committee that delay would be caused if the producers were asked to elect representatives to the board. I shall support the amendment in order that the producers may have a say in the management of the scheme. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) stressed the point that the measure was framed on democratic lines. Why can he not allow the producers to elect representatives to the board?
.- I support the amendment. Again I point out to the Prime Minister the position that exists in South Australia, where 70 per cent, of the suppliers supply to proprietary companies. The right honorable gentleman is prepared to allow the directorate of 33 factories to elect representatives to this board, while the suppliers can “ go hang.” We shall push this matter to a vote, to show that the Government is not prepared to give the producers the right to say who shall control an industry that means so much to them. The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) has expressed surprise that the Government will not accept this amendment, but I am not at all surprised. The Government has always stood for the interests of the big men, and I have no doubt that it will continue to do so. If this amendment is defeated I shall move another, notice of which I shall give in due course. ‘
Mr. ANSTEY (Bourke) F12.51 a,m.].Why is the honorable member for Angas so pessimistic? Surely he knows that the righteous cause must ultimately triumph. I shall support the amendment, for it is- democratic. The Government surely realizes that substantial progress in this country must be based upon democratic principles. The dairying industry is of great importance to Australia, and’ for that .reason if for no other the producers should be given- a fair deal’. For the three years 1912, 1913, 1914, the average production of butter in Australia was 193,407,000 lb., the average value for these: three years being £9,299,000. Taking the three years 1920, 1921 and 1922, the average production was 236,716,000 lb.., the average value for these’ three years being £2.0,237,000.. Since the 1912.-14 period it will be seen that the production of butter has. increased 22 per cent., and the value by 120 per cent. In view of the great expansion of the industry I urge the Government to give the producers some representation on the board.. I commend the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) for his persistence in advocating the cause of the producers. Although he has not so far been successful in getting the Government to accept any of his amendments, I trust that he will continue to press them, and that success will ultimately come his way. The honorable member for Angas should cease making- pessimistic remarks, and follow the example of the honorable member for Capricornia, who refuses to be discouraged by the repeated rejection of his proposals by the Government. Not one word has been said in justification of the proposal to hand over to the board complete control of the exportable surplus. * Paragraph c provides that two of the representatives shall be elected by the boards of directors of proprietary butter and cheese factories. The honorable member for Capricornia has moved for the deletion of that paragraph, and proposes to ask the committee to accept an amendment to provide for the representation of the producers supplying milk or cream to proprietary butter and cheese factories. Large quantities of these commodities will be under the control of the proposed hoard. For the three years prior to the war (1912,, 1913’, 1914) the average quantity of butter produced in Australia was 193,407,000 lb,., the average value of such production being £9,299,000. For the. same period the average cheese production was 19,064,000 lb., the average value of such production being £529,100. Since then there has been an enormous increase in the output of both commodities. During the fast three years (1920, 1921, 1922) the average production, of butter reached 236,716,000 lb., the average value being- £2O,327,060 ; while the average production! of cheese for the same period was 26,841,000 lb., the average value of such production being £1,226,731. Under the Government proposal the producers of butter and cheese, numbering 150,000 persons, are to have no voice in the selection of the board. All they are asked to do is to vote for the acceptance of the scheme.. In 1912-13, 128,000 people were- engaged in the dairying industry, and in 1913!-14, 131,000. The total value of the production was about ,£20,000,000. To-day, there are 150,000 people engaged in the industry,, and the value of the production is about £50,.000i,000, being increases- of 18 per cent, and 125 per cent, respectively. The value of the butter production alone since 1913-14, has. increased 120 per cent. Yet the producers are mot to be permitted to have one representative on the board of control.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member’s time has ex>pired
Declaration op Urgency.
– I declare that this bill is an urgent bill.
– I wish to know whether the “ gag “ is to be applied ?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.No discussion is now permissible.
– I shall not allow a “ brass hat “ to put it over me.. I. ask your ruling, sir, whether the “gag” is tei be applied ? This is- a very important matter for- the primary producers- of Australia.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.When a declaration of urgency is made under Standing Order 262a, no debate or amendment is allowed.
Question - That the bill is urgent - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Mir. BRUCE (Flinders- Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs) [1.29 a.m.]. - I move -
That the time allotted in connexion with the remaining stages of the bill be as follows : -
. We have had only two days in which to discuss an important bill involving the fate of many primary producers. Honorable members have given notice of many amendments, , yet the Prime Minister has the cool audacity to say that the consideration of the bill in committee and the third reading shall be completed by 6.30 a.m. If it were a bill affecting the profits earned in Flinderslane, the discussion upon it would in committee be dealt with differently. But the right honorable the Prime Minister impudently declares that a measure for the benefit of our dairy farmers must be passed within a few hours. That means that no amendment for its improvement can be moved by the members of the Opposition or the Country party.
– Yes. they can be moved.
– The honorable member, although a Country party member, is a very staunch supporter of the Government. He may try to lead the dairymen in his electorate to believe that he is desirous to improve their conditions, yet by voting to impose the “ gag “ he has prevented the possibility of amending the bill. The object of the measure, as it stands, is to increase the profits of landlords and the price of butter. Immediately this measure becomes law, there will be a control of the export of butter, and the board will see that enough butter is sent out of Australia to cause a local scarcity.
– That cannot be done.
– As a matter of fact, honorable members of the Opposition are foolish to discuss the bill, because after the next election Labour will be in power and will take the earliest opportunity to alter this legislation. The Country party is not game to vote against the Government and thus bring about a dissolution. Members of the party are quite aware that in every state except New South Wales, it has recently appealed to the electors with disastrous results.This bill is an attempt to restrict the supply of butter to the Australian consumers.
– Nonsense !
– The honorable member for Gippsland has put forward a silly proposal which would increase the price of butter by 3d. a lb. This bill will also mean an increase in the price of butter, but the Government are not courageous enough to admit it. When the board is created it will cause an arti- ficial scarcity of butter in Australia, and the price will go up, to the ultimate advantage of the landlords. What has happened in fruit production and in other directions will happen in dairy production. The greater the profit made the greater will be the increase in land values, so that the only gainers by the passing of this bill will be the few individuals who own the land on which dairy farming is carried on. It will impose a tax of at least 2s. a week on every working man with a wife and four or five children.
– The cost will be not more than 71/2d. in the case of a man with a wife and five children.
– The honorable member stood on the hustings as an opponent of the Government, ‘but he has always quietly crawled in behind the Government. He has opposed it with his voice and often by his vote, but not until he had first been careful to see that there was no chance of the Ministry being defeated.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
. - I am surprised that the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) should be trying to push business through in an all-night sitting. On the 11th October. 1922, he said -
On behalf of my part)’, I protest against Estimates involving expenditure amounting to £84,000,000 being rushed through by means of all-night sittings, when every honorable member is jaded.
On the 12th October he said -
My experience has been that the man who has been working twenty-four hours, or thirty hours, without sleep, is not more than 50 per cent, efficient, and probably not more than 25 per cent.
Yet here we have the honorable member trying to do the business of the Commonwealth when he himself, according to his own admission, is inefficient. We have ocular demonstration of the effect of allnight sittings. The Vice-President of the Executive Council slumbers on the Government bench, while others are trying to work. The honorable member for Henty has his head buried in a corner, presenting the spectacle of an intelligent legislator trying to do the business of the country at 1.40 a.m.
Mr-. F. Francis. - I would rather be at home.
– I believe the honorable member would rather be at home. I heard him telling the Prime Minister that, although he admired him very much, he did not admire his proclivities for all-night sittings. The honorable member for Indi is almost asleep. Close by him is the honorable member for Gippsland, also half asleep. We have this morning a slightly larger gallery than we usually have at these after midnight farces we enact in this Parliament. It is in a position to see what a sorry spectacle a so-called deliberative assembly presents in the early hours of the morning. I always protest against all-night sittings. We have almost until Christmas Eve to carry on the business of the country. The Government has threatened us with fourteen or fifteen other measures.
– Is it not disorderly to read newspapers in the chamber?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.It is contrary to the Standing Orders to read newspapers in the chamber. Honorable members must not do so.
– The Leader of the Country party has had a lengthy medical experience.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I shall name any honorable member who continues to read a newspaper in the chamber.
– The Treasurer, who has had a lengthy medical experience, has admitted that after honorable members have sat for a lengthy period without sleep, they are less than 25 per cent, efficient. Instead of rushing the bill through by 6.30 a.m., the time for the completion of the committee stage should have been fixed at 6.30 p.m. to-day.
– I call attention to the state of the committee. [Quorum formed.]
Mr.FENTON.- I realize that my protest has fallen on deaf ears. During my fifteen years of parliamentary experience I have never known an all-night sitting to be inflicted on honorable members on the first sitting day of the week, when many of them are already fatigued as the result of train or steamer journeys from other states.
– I also protest against the way in which the bill is being rushed through the committee, contrary to the wishes, I venture to say, of honorable members on both, sides of the ‘chamber. A crop of bills is to be brought down at the end of this session because of a similar procedure having been adopted last year, when the Prime Minister was packing his bag for his tour abroad. It is proposed that all clauses up to clause 13 shall be passed within the next hour or so, and in that time we are expected to agree to proposals of a most revolutionary character.
– The time allotted is based on the speed at which the Bankruptcy Bill was taken through committee.
– That was not so contentious a measure as this. There bias been no obstruction by the Opposition. Every honorable member who has spoken on this side of the chamber has been followed by a supporter of the Government. The consideration of clause L3 alone might well occupy honorable members’ time for a whole day. There is no justification for this unseemly haste. Honorable members are paid to give full consideration to the measures brought before them, but the Prime Minister has fixed the 8th October as the date for the commencement of his tour among the states to patch up the pact. It is impossible to foresee how faTreaching will be the effects of this ill-considered legislation. If the whole of the present week were allotted for the discussion of the bill, it would not be too much. Honorable members, who speak airily about disposing of the measure by 6 a.m., have no personal knowledge of the requirements of the dairying industry. I regard the Prime Minister’s plan as a “ strong man act ‘ ‘ for the purpose of silencing the Opposition, but what about the interests of the thousands of dairy farmers throughout the Commonwealth who depend upon their representatives to give proper consideration to the legislation submitted to them ? There is no justification for the application of the guillotine to this measure. We are expected to reach clause 21 by 4.30 a.m., but clause 19 is most contentious, and the committee might well have the considered opinion of every honorable member on such a revolutionary proposal. At the end of last session, the Prime Minister was evidently not prepared to trust his colleague, the Treasurer, to lead the House in his absence abroad. To-day, however, he has no such excuse for the action he has taken.
Ministers are returning and reinforcing the ranks of the Government. We have before us now the genial, smiling countenance of the Postmaster-General, who is fresh from his triumphs on the continent of Europe. But there is not now as there was last year an imperial conference about to be held. The empire does not require to be saved this year by the Prime Minister^ -
– The honorable member’s leader is away in Europe.
– He did not ask that legislation should be passed hastily to allow him to leave. He went, on public business, at the invitation of this chamber. This is a highly intricate bill, that will affect the livelihood of many men who have built up their businesses by a great deal of hard work and application. It is very unwise for a government to over-ride the business of any man. This Government stands for the principle of no interference with private enterprise, yet it intends to pass revolutionary measures, the effect of which no one can foresee. I hope that the committee will not agree to this proposal, because there is absolutely no need for it.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Within the limited time that is allowed me by our drastic Standing Orders, I wish to protest against the proposal of the Prime Minister. Such a course as he has adopted is, in the circumstances, absolutely unprecedented in the history of this Parliament.
– I draw attention to the state of the committee. [Quorum formed.’]
Mp. BRENNAN . - This is a dishonest attempt to rush the bill through during unnatural working hours. If there were an honest desire to limit the time to be devoted to the discussion of the bill, a motion to that effect would have been moved yesterday afternoon. This proposal is a calculated insult to honorable members, and its object can be. only to provoke honorable members, and not to expedite the business of the chamber. We are all aware that there is no necessity to rush the measure through in this way. The interests of the country do not demand that the session be closed in the manner so hysterically asked for. I am pleased to learn that at a meeting held last evening, the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) had an enthusiastic reception. I heartily agree with many of the observations that he made at that meeting. He is competent to speak, because he has’ an inside knowledge of the workings of the Government. This is what a report of the meeting in this morning’s newspaper states: -
Several ‘hundred members of the Victorian Farmers’ Union crowded into Ansae House last night on the occasion of a smoke social tendered to Messrs. P. G. Stewart, M.P., and A. A. Dunstan, M.L.A., in recognition of the stand they have taken in the Federal and State. Parliaments in the interests of the V.F.U. Though they had been described as rebels, said the chairman,, Mr. J. J. Hall, the organization was proud of such rebels, and it was thought fitting- hi order to give them some encouragement in the great light they had made, and the big fight they would be called upon to make before the political crisis was over, that a gathering representative of Victoria should throw its weight behind- them and assure them> that their actions- and utterances were an embodiment of the true spirit of the V.F.U. (Loud applause.).
This obvious, breaking up of the so-called pact has imbued the Government with a desire to conclude the session, hurriedly, so as to allow the Prime Minister and the Treasurer to tour Australia in an endeavour to patch it up. The report continues -
In response to the toast of hia health, which was enthusiastically honoured, Mr. Stewart said the. distinct understanding when he joined the composite Government was- that there should be no pacts, and had he not received a solemn promise in tills regard he would, not have joined the Ministry. However, he felt compelled to say that the arrangement made between the leaders of tlie two- parties was the most flagrant example of endeavouring to run the movement from the top down instead of from- the bottom up which he had ever seen.
I think it must be admitted that that is how the Government is now - bottom up. Mr. Stewart went on to say - -
For years the two-party system; had prevailed - Labour and anti-Labour - the latter under various- names, both of which claimed to be friends of the farmer. Whichever party was elected’ the primary .producer always lost. So the Country party was formed with. fine, ideals. With the baton in one hand and the searchlight in the other the leader of the Country party went into the dark places carrying thefiery torch, and lighting not only political: parties, but a hostile press, and in an incredibly short space of time- it became one of the most vital political forces in the Commonwealth. (Cheers.) Now, however, the scene hud changed. No longer was the Countryparty carrying the- banner against all comers The- ‘baton and the- searchlights were, in the limbo of things forgotten,, and instead, the Country party had placed in its hands’ a sweettoned harp, and tho fighters of yesterday were sitting at the footstool of Nationalism striking chords of harmony and singing Love Me and the World is Mine. (Loud laughter.)
– 1 ask the honorable member to speak to thi ol lause
– I shall endeavour to do so. The report states further -
And those few people who remembered the ideals that actuated the party of yesterday; who remembered tlie commandeering of wheat, tlie fixation of prices by other people and other boards on: which the primary producer- had no representation;; who- remembered the fixation of the price of wheat, the crushing imposts of a- crushing tarin” and other, forms of taxation, wore regarded as wreckers, agitators and rebels, because they stood true to their principles. (Applause.) The- Prime Minister hod taken the opportunity at a non-party gathering, at the show to refer to a certain- section as “ political blackmailers.” It. was pertinent to ask Mr. Bruce who he meant. If he did not mean the- Country party they owed him an apology. (Laughter.) “if he was really aiming at. the. harmony he spoke about it was- a strange procedure at an agricultural gathering to make a covert attack on. a certain section because it endeavoured to carry out its own political destiny. Tlie primary producers, of this country did not deny the right to any section of the community to enter tlie political field, and’ the Country party would insist on that privilege being granted to it. (Cheers.). Who.- had’ a better right to- a say in its political destiny than the men who fought fire and flood, and drought? He differed from- Mr. Bruce that the way to secure unity was- to draft them all into the one political pen.
– The honorable member’s time- has expired.
– I should like to point out to the committee, and, through the committee, to the people of Australia, the manner in which honorable members r.f the Opposition are dealing with this bill. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) spoke for nearly ten minutes-. He dealt with many things, but he did not approach the subject of butter. It was stated that the Opposition had made up its mind to> prevent the passage of the bill if that were possible.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit: that it is quite, out of harmony with our Standing Orders, and with parliamentary practice as laid down by May and other authorities, for any honorable member of this chamber to accuse another honorable member of deliberately obstructing legislation. It is particularly unbecoming for the Treasurer to offend in this way. He has misrepresented honorable members of the party to which I belong, and his remarks are unfair and improper.’ I request that they be withdrawn.
– I ask the Treasurer to withdraw the remarks that have been objected to.
-If the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) considers my remark that the Opposition has obstructed the passage of this bill to be offensive, I withdraw it, but I shall say that the tactics of the Opposition have every appearance of being obstructive. Since the conclusion of the secondreading debate on this measure, the Opposition has attempted to prevent progress, and every member opposite who has addressed the committee has “ flogged “ the same arguments. The widest latitude was given during the second-reading debate.
– I had a speech prepared for delivery in the second-reading debate, but I was prevented from delivering it.
– If the honor.orable member had been here, he would have been able to deliver his speech, for the second-reading debate ended quite naturally. No pressure was applied by the Government, and no division was called for. The principles to which the bill is designed to give effect are well known to the dairy farmers, and have been discussed publicly for many months. The Government is aiming in the bill to do two things, namely, to provide a board of a satisfactory kind to control the export of dairy produce and to clothe the board with sufficient power to make its work effective. There is still a considerable time in which .these matters may be discussed.
– The members of the Corner party have done their fair share in this debate.
– And every time any member of that party has spoken he has given some fresh information, or revealed a new point of view. The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey), on the other hand, in his speeches has repeated the same remarks time after time.- He admitted that in one speech this evening he had made a certain statement six times, Although he stated that he repeated this statement for the purpose of emphasis, it seemed to honorable members on this side of the chamber, who had to listen to him, that he was indulging in wearisome reiteration. It is necessary that this bill should be passed as soon as possible in order that the export trade of the approaching season may be properly handled. I am sure that the general public will recognize that the Government has provided ample time for the discussion of the measure, and that there is still time for the committee to discuss adequately all the matters that need discussion.
– Then why does not the Treasurer allow those who want to speak on the provisions of the bill to do so? He himself is adopting an obstructionist policy. * i
– There is an Australian way of conducting parliamentary business and there is also a Prussian way.
– It is no good for the honorable member to try to draw a red herring across .the trail. The only ones who are attempting to obstruct the measure are honorable members opposite.
– The Treasurer’s time has expired.
– I wish to move -
That the question be now put.
– The honorable member for Angas.
– On a point of order. I submit that it is not competent for the honorable member for Richmond to move that motion.
– I have not accepted it. I have called on the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb).
.- I strongly protest against being obliged to suffer an all-night sitting on the first sitting day of the week. I and some other honorable members were in the train all last night, and it is not fair that we should be compelled to remain here until this hour of the morning. I have been a member of this Parliament for five years, and although I thought that the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. V. M. Hughes), when Prime Minister, was bad enough in the demands he made on the time of honorable members, he never stooped so low as the present Prime Minister, in obliging us to remain in this building under such unreasonable conditions.Where is there any urgency for the passing of this bill?
– The honorable member’s party is responsible for the urgency.
– If the fact that we are putting up a fight for the producers is sufficient to make the matter urgent, then I suppose we are responsible, but I think the real reason for the urgency is to be found in the speech made last night by the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart), in another place, which the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) has quoted. So far as the bill itself is concerned, there is no need for urgency or hurry. The Treasurer stated just now that the Government had provided abundant time for the second-reading debate. That is so. This Government always provides plenty of time for the discussion of generalities, but it never allows sufficient time to discuss the details of the legislation it introduces. I ask the Prime Minister to deny, if he can, that the principal clauses in this measure, which relate to the powers to be conferred upon the export control board, are in clauses 14 to 20. Yet he has the darned cheek to ask us to discuss those clauses and vote on them in an hour and a half.
– I rise to a point of order. Tor the proper conduct of the business of this committee, I must protest against the use of the words “ darned cheek “ by the honorable member for Angas. I suggest that they are not parliamentary.
– If the words “darned cheek “ are distasteful to the Prime Minister, I shall withdraw them, but they arc not nearly so distasteful as language which the Prime Minister himself has used in private conversation to which I have beencompelled to listen. His language has been far more distasteful to me than these words can be to him, and yet I have had to put up with it. It is time he abandoned such mock modesty as to pretend that the words “ darned cheek “ are offensive.
– The words are not offensive to me personally, but they are unparliamentary. For that reason I objected to them.
Question -That the time allotted be as stated by the Prime Minister - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– Before my amendment goes to a vote, I should like to know whether the Prime Minister intends to accept it. There is a big principle involved. The party to which I belong has always stood for the widest possible franchise. In this case honorable members of the Country party should not object to the extension of the franchise to producers supplying milk or cream to the proprietary factories in order that they may have some :say in the election .of the representatives on the board of those concerns. For the last six or eight months I have been consistently urging the Government to do something for the dairy farmers of the Commonwealth, but I have been disappointed at the unsympathetic reception of my proposals by certain honorable members supporting the Government. When the estimates of the Prime Minister’s Department were under discussion, I moved for their reduction by £1, as an instruction to the Government to introduce the stabilization scheme outlined ;by the interstate .dairy conference in April, and again in July df this year for the marketing of dairy products. My proposal was for the appointment of a tribunal to inquire into ali phases of the dairying industry in Australia, to ascertain what was wrong, and to fix a reasonable price for the producer, based on the cost of production. Honorable members of the Country party, who might have been expected to endorse it, failed to do so. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson), in explanation of his attitude, said . that the Prime Minister had definitely promised to introduce legislation before the session closed. He knew quite well that the Government did not propose to deal with two-thirds of the Australian butter production that is absorbed by the home market. He knew that the scheme which the Government had in contemplation would ‘deal only with the exportable surplus. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. J.. Francis), congratulated the Government upon already having promised to introduce the necessary legislation, and added that he proposed to postpone his criticism until he had the bill before him. He also knew that the Government’s . proposals would refer only to the exportable surplus. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), referring ‘to my amendment, declared that I was uselessly occupying the time of the committee, because the Prime Minister had promised to introduce legislation, and ‘that when the bill was before the House honorable memhers would have an opportunity to -show whether they approved of the policy laid down. He also expressed the hope that when I had been a little longer in this Parliament, and had acquired a little more sense., I would deal with the problems that came before me in a business- like way. He, teo, decided to withhold his criticism until ‘the Government policy had been announced. All the honorable members .to whom I have referred (endeavoured to ‘throw cold water upon my proposal, which has been unanimously supported by dairymen throughout Australia. One would think that members of the Country party had .never adopted a similar course. I find, however., ‘that on the 19th October, .1921, .the Treasurer (Dr.. Earle Page)., then Leader of the Country party, moved for the reduction of .the Defence Estimates by 10s., as an instruction to the Government to take a certain course of action in the interests of the primary producers. On that occasion he .was supported by members of the Labour party.. . We did not .make it a party issue, but voted for the amendment in the belief that the course suggested would be in the best interests of Australia. Again, on the 17th November, 1921;, ‘the present .Treasurer moved for a reduction of £400,000 in the Defence Estimates, and again he was supported by members of the Labour party. I quote these instances to show that when I moved for the reduction of tlie Prime Minister’s Estimates I was following sound precedent established by the Treasurer himself. I protest against the apparent hypocrisy practised by certain honorable members opposite, who, although professing to have the interests of the dairy farmer at heart, fail to assist him when an opportunity is given for them to do so. If the dairy farmers read ‘the debates that have taken place in this chamber on this subject, they cannot ‘but conclude that they stand a better chance of getting a fair deal from the Labour party than from honorable members supporting the Government. I urge the Prime Minister to accept my amendment in order to give the dairy farmers an opportunity to elect their representatives to the board instead of conferring that -power -upon the directors of the proprietary butter and cheese f st e t factories (53
Mr. BRENNAN (Batman) (2.48 a.m.]. - I support the amendment by the honorable member for -Capricornia, and I commend him for the perseverance and conspicuous ability with which he has dealt -with ‘the bill. It is .proposed that instead of two representatives being elected by ‘the boards of directors of proprietary butter and cheese factories, they shall be elected by the producers supplying those factories. This proposal should commend itself to all honorable members if they were prepared to give it detached and impartial consideration. The object of the amendment is to give the primary producers representation on the board. The omission of the provision he proposes would create a radical defect in the bill. What is lacking in the clause is a democratic constitution for the board. It comes ill from those who profess to be the champions of primary production to deliberately and persistently exclude the bona fide primary producer from representation on the board. The proposal to which the Government is apparently committed - two representatives to be elected by the boards of directors of proprietary butter and cheese factories - directs a good deal of suspicion at the composite parties to the imperfect pact. It suggests a further corroboration of the fact of which we have been long satisfied, that these alleged champions of the primary producers are really the champions of vested interests, such as Flinders-lane and other rich corporations that are only remotely connected with the working farmer of this country - a man for whom the Labour party has been a consistent advocate. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) is known throughout the length and breadthof Australia for his understanding of the needs of the primary producers, and for the skill and eloquence with which he has, from time to time, presented their case. The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham), himself a product of the soil, understands the needs of the primary producer. He himself was not ashamed to take off his coat to help in the development of bis country. He cannot be classed among the parasites who sit in the corner, using superficial phrases for reproduction in the newspapers at convenient times. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) poses as the champion of the primary producers. I suppose I knew more about primary production before he was born than he is ever likely to learn in the rest of his natural life.
– The honorable member’s supposition has no foundation in fact. He has never known anything about primary production.
– Why should I have to listen to the representative of a handful of “ teat tuggers “ talk as the honorable member is talking now?
– My electors will remember that term.
– I am not against the bill or the appointment of the board. I have all along been willing to help to make this bill a measure worthy of this Parliament. Honorable members opposite deliver their prepared speeches, but when it comes to a vote we find that they are really the supporters of the middlemen and of certain vested interests. They were sent to Parliament nominally as the friends of the primary producers, but they really represent the right wing of the nationalist reactionaries. The discussion on the clauses up to and including clause 13 closes automatically at 3 o’clock. As it is now 2.59, I shall resume my seat, as I understand that the honorable member for Richmond and others wish to move amendments to certain clauses.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman-
– The time has expired for the discussion of the clauses up to and including clause
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause (Mr. Forde’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 13 agreed to.
Clause 14 -
For the purpose of enabling the board effectively to control the export and the sale and distribution after export of Australian dairy produce, the Governor-General may by proclamation prohibit the export from the Commonwealth of any dairy produce except in accordance with a licence issued by the Minister subject to such conditions and restrictions as the board approves.
. - This is the first occasion on which I have risen to oppose any particularly strong principle in this bill. I propose to move -
That the word “ Minister “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word board.”
.I have a prior amendment. I move -
That after the word “ produce “, second occurring, the words “to Great Britain and the continent of Europe, but excluding all trade to Oriental and Pacific ports “ be inserted.
– The honorable member’s purpose is evidently to make it unnecessary to obtain a licence to export butter to eastern ports. A much simpler way of achieving that object would be to insert the words “to Europe” after the word “ Commonwealth.” The effect of such an amendment would be to limit licensing to the exportation of butter to the European market only.
– That would place at a disadvantage exporters who wished to send butter to Europe and re-ship it to the East. What will be the position of those who export to the East and re-ship to Europe?
– It is not proposed to apply the act to those who ship butter to the East. This bill has one purpose only, and that is to bring about a more orderly system of selling Australian dairy produce in the markets which have already been opened up, and in which our efforts are handicapped by the inadequacy of our arrangements. Those markets are in European countries. This measure is not designed to hamper the trade we are now opening up with the East, or any new trade we may be in a position to gain. Not through the efforts of the pioneer will the best return be secured to the producer, but through the established market, and this will suffer if there is no orderly system.
– I accept the Prime Minister’s suggestion, and therefore withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That after the word “ Commonwealth “ the words “ to Europe “ be inserted.
– I regret to say that the Prime Minister has accepted an apparently innocuous amendment that will deal a deathblow to the bill. Had he suggested that the board might prohibit the export of any dairy produce overseas, except in accordance with the licence, I should not have objected. I pointed out in my second-reading speech that butter could be sold ostensibly to a buyer in South Africa, without regard to the board, and yet its ultimate destination might be Great Britain or the continent of Europe. ‘The amendment supported by the Prime Minister gives opportunities for defeating the whole spirit of the bill, and I strongly protest against it. If it is agreed to by the committee, the measure may as well be thrown into the waste-paper basket. Apart from the Eastern markets, there are the South African and other markets to be considered. The board should have control of the whole of the export. If it is desired to exclude the Eastern trade, it is unnecessary to make a stipulation to that effect in the bill, since the board could approve of regulations that would be sufficient to exempt that trade. The amendment that I had drafted provided that the board should determine from time to time the extent to which it was necessary for it to exercise control over the export of dairy produce from Australia. The control could then be either absolute or limited. If we deliberately confine the operation of the clause to the European trade, we shall kill the bill, and all the time spent on the measure will have been wasted, foi* it will not achieve its object.
– The scheme of the bill is that the board shall have the right to lay down the terms and conditions upon which butter may be exported from Australia. But the licence to export will be issued by the Minister, who will thus retain control. The honorable member for Richmond asks that the board shall be given complete control, but the Government cannot accept his suggestion. Nor does the Government intend that the board shall have partial control. Our proposal is that the board shall lay down the terms and conditions under which licences to export shall be issued, and when licences have been issued by the Minister, there will be nothing to prevent export through the ordinary channels. The measure is designed to utilize those channels to the maximum of their efficiency, to assist the producer to realize the full value of his product. But I wish to make it clear that there is no power in the bill for the board to take over the control of butter.
– There the bill is weaker than the New Zealand act.
– Yes. It would be useless to give the board power to assume control, because the bill is limited to export butter, and it is impossible to say what is export butter until there is a declaration to the Customs. There would be no compulsion on anybody to declare butter for export, and the probable effect of compulsion, if it were exercised, would be to do the greatest possible harm to the producers. The Minister will issue licences only on the terms and conditions determined by the board. I am not suggesting how the board may exercise its powers. One suggestion made was, I think, that a proprietary company, through its agency, should determine the quantity of butter that should be placed on the market in any particular week. That might be one of the conditions of the licence. It is contemplated that the control of the board will be exercised through the power to lay down the terms and conditions upon which licences to export may be issued by the “Minister.
– In what way does the right honorable gentleman contend that shipment through South Africa will be prevented ?
– That is the second point with which I wish to deal. In the bill power is given to the board to take control of produce that is voluntarily placed in its hands by the owner. If the board carries out with conspicuous success the work that is entrusted to it, it is quite possible that in future a large number of persons will voluntarily place their butter in its hands and ask it to export and market it. Even if compulsory powers were conferred they would be of no effect, because there is not in the bill a provision to compel anybody to export butter. I come now to the contention of the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green). It is not intended to interfere with the eastern trade that we have been building up. If, after further consideration, it is found that it is not possible, by regulation, to prevent a sale to “a dummy in, say, South Africa, or other manipulations by which butter could be placed on the European market free from control, I assure the honorable member that in another place steps will be taken to exclude the eastern trade. There is nothing in the argument that the powers of the board will be weakened, because it has never been contemplated that the board should have the power to specify the quantity to be exported, “or the places to which it shall go.
– Why should the board not be given the power to control export to the East?
– For the reason that it is unnecessary at this stage, and because the board will be fully employed in solving the problem of the orderly marketing of our butter production on the European market, which is an urgent matter at present.
– I cannot take the optimistic view that is held by the right honorable gentleman, particularly as I have a vivid recollection of the control that was exercised by various boards and committees which were appointed by anti-Labour Governments during and since the war. I quite agree with the honorable member for Richmond.
– Is the honorable member opposed to his leader?
– I am opposed to the provision that he has suggested. I fail to see why similar provisions should not be made for both sections of the trade. The board at a later stage may desire to improve the marketing methods in the East. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) a few days ago pointed out the awful mistakes that had been made by private enterprise in connexion with our trade to the East. The board would be prohibited from dealing with that phase of the matter. The Prime Minister’s amendment limits control to the export of butter to Europe. As soon as a vessel is outside the 3-mile limit the Commonwealth will have no control over its cargoes, and will not be able to interfere with any person who shows a disposition to resell them. There are, in this community, adroit and astute gentlemen who are prepared to effect half a dozen dummy sales. Companies may be formed for the purpose of exporting to an Asiatic port, where there will be subsidiary companies which, being registered under Asiatic laws, will be beyond the control of the Commonwealth. I am not prepared to accept the assurance of the Prime Minister. I disagree materially with his contention that no power to control export is proposed to be given to theboard. I direct his attention to paragraphs a, b, and c of clause 20, which confer very wide powers upon the board. That clause says -
Without limiting any authority specifically conferred on the board with respect to any dairy produce placed under its control, the board shall have full authority to make such arrangements and give such directions as it thinks fit for the following matters : -
The handling, marketing, and storing of dairy produce.
The shipment of dairy produce on such terms and in such quantities as it thinks fit.
The sale and disposal of dairy produce on such terms as it thinks fit.
In no case is mention made of the licensee. The board may grant a licence to export, but it can say, “ You can export only 1,000 cases under your licence.” It is virtually made supreme.
– It will be elected for only twelve months.
– A man’s business can “go to the dogs “ in three months, or even in one month. Who, when the Central Wool Committee was brought into existence, believed that men would be prevented from exporting wool from fellmongered skins ? That is what happened to the firm of F. W. Hughes and Company. Does any honorable member imagine that the board will not exercise its powers to the fullest extent ?
– In the interests of the people by whom it is to be elected .
– Opinions differ greatly regarding what are the interests of the people by whom the board is to be elected. The exporters will certainly have a voice in the matter, but they will be in a big minority on the board, and will not be able to exercise a very great influence upon its discussions. I believe that the board will have very much wider powers of control than the Prime Minister asserts to be the case. If export to the East is uncontrolled, it will be possible to ship to Europe under any conditions hundreds of thousands of tons of butter. We are assured by the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) that it will not be possible to create an artificial shortage of butter in Australia under the provisions of this bill. Those who are engaged in the business and have capital to the extent of millions of pounds behind them will very easily be able to create a shortage in Australia coincidentally with a shortage in Europe. When high prices are ruling in Europe there will be nothing to prevent them from buying large quantities of butter in Australia ostensibly for shipment to the East. I challenge the Prime Minister and the supporters of this proposal to prove that I am wrong in saying that it will be possible to consign first of all to an Asiatic port and then re-consign to Europe-
– It would be a stupid thing to do.
– The statement has been made that we control 95 per cent of the export of butter to the East. Admittedly there is not a very great quantity of butter consumed there, because of the inability of the inhabitants to purchase it. Representative journals of the dairymen in Australia have pointed out that the price of butter is to-day too high to allow even the Britisher to purchase the amount that he should purchase in order to maintain his health at the proper standard.
– I call attention to the state of the committee. [Quorum formed.]
– A paragraph that was published in the New Zealand Dairyman on the 20th October, 1923, gives some figures to show how butter and cheese is put on the British market during the twelve months. I shall quote them, for they will doubtless be interesting to dairy producers in Australia. They are as follow: -
The letterpress which followed the table read as follows: -
England requires each month 20,000 tons of butter and 10,000 tons of cheese. For the year ended 30th June both these quantities have been exceeded, and constitute a record, except in one instance, when 2,000 tons more cheese was received in one twelve months. The position we have to face now is this: We have either got to find fresh markets or accept lower prices. It is true that there are 2,000,000 more people now resident in England and Scotland than in 1914, in spite of the losses during the war. It is also true that some 250,000 tons of margarine are consumed each year, and that is the only outlet for further supplies of butter. As the price of butter falls so the output of margarine will be decreased, but while butter remains at its present high price the output of margarine is more likely to be. increased than otherwise. At present both butter and cheese are too high in price to be within the reach of the bulk of the working population of the Old Country.
Therefore, they eat margarine. That fact is particularly important to butter producers in Australia. It indicates to me that our dairymen cannot expect to obtain very much greater returns from the sale of their produce overseas. Only one-third of Australia’s dairy production is exported. According to figures quoted by the honorable member for Capricornia, the average return to the dairymen of Queensland is £2 10s. per week. I think that that figure is a bit low to take as a general average for Australia, for I have no doubt that many of the Queensland dairymen are new to the business, and that many men who send their produce to the factories are only giving part of their time to the industry. It is also probable that their herds are not of the same high quality as those of Victoria and. parts of New South Wales.
– Queensland pro- duces more butter than Victoria.
– That may be so, but the herds in that state are not as good as theherds in the states where the industry has been established for many more years than it has been in Queensland, where it is only now beginning to develop. It is impossible to build up a good dairy herd in a few years. It takes anything up to 100 years to get a first class herd together.
– It was done in Denmark in 28: years.
– The conditions in Denmark are very different from those in Australia. In Denmark, on account of the intense culture’ that is necessary, every head of stock counts, and the dairy farmers have to take much more care to have good cattle than do the dairy farmers of Australia. I speak from personal experience when I say that it takes many years to build up a good herd, for we have had one strain of cattle on out farm for 40 years, and it is not yet perfect. Even assuming that this board will be most successful, it cannot do a great deal to help the dairy farmers. Let us say, for the sake of argument, that the average return to the dairy farmers of Australia is £3 per week. As only one-third of their produce is exported, their export return is only £1 per week. If, as the result of the operations of this board, the export return was increased by 50 per cent, the dairy farmers would only be 10s. a week better off. I do not think that the increased return will be anything like 50 per cent. If there is a 10 per cent, increase the dairy farmers may consider themselves fortunate, and 10 per cent, of £1 is only 2s. If the increase were 25 per cent, the producers would only be 5s. a week better -off. This board will be expensive, and there will be considerable overhead charges in Great Britain, as well as in Australia. The Prime Minister has stated that if the board is a success the producers will probably voluntarily place their produce under its control. I suggest that as the board will have so much power to grant or refuse licences, it will in a comparatively short space of time become the chief, if not the only, exporter of butter from Australia, in much the same way as the Central Wool Committee became the only exporter of wool. I disagree with the Prime Minister’s view that the powers of the board are clearly defined. It seems to me that a great deal has been left indefinite, and in the circumstances it is unlikely that private persons will care to venture their money in an export trade which is controlled by this board. If they do they may be placed in a position similar to that in which certain wool-dealing firms found themselves in consequence of the operations of the Central Wool Committee. Their operations would be so seriously hampered that it would not pay them to carry on.
– Would the honorable member abolish control altogether?
– No; but I do not accept the interpretation placed upon the provision by the right honorable the Prime Minister, and I trust that the committee will not agree to eliminate control, so far as the East is concerned. There is nothing in the bill to prevent shipments of butter from being sent to the East in cold storage, and then re-consigned to some European port. The door is left open for smart individuals in the trade to drive a coach and four through the act.
– General approval has been expressed by producers in Queensland of the powers to be conferred upon the board under clause 14, but the fear is expressed that clause 17 may materially weaken that provision. I shall be glad if the right honorable the Prime Minister will indicate to the committee what is the purport of clause 17.
– The honorable member for Moreton has suggested that clause 17, which gives to the board power to accept control of dairy produce intended for export, may weaken the provisions of clause 14. (That is not so. Clause 17 does not in any - way affect clause II, which sets out the terms upon which licences may be issued by the Minister for Trade and Customs for the export of butter. Clause 17 in no sense limits those terms or conditions. It does not interfere with the ownership of the product, or the ordinary channels through which it may go. It merely provides for the actual taking over of control by the board, at the request of the owner. Further particular powers are given to the board under clause 20, but neither clause 17 nor clause 20 will in any way weaken the provisions of clause 14.
– I do not think the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham) need have any apprehension about the Eastern trade. It is already well established, and we hold from 90 per cent, to 95 per cent, of it.
– I was referring to the illegitimate traders who might use that avenue to defeat the objects of the bill.
– I doubt if that would be possible, for the simple reason that, for our European export trade we use refrigerator space, and the butter is put up in 56-lb. boxes, whereas for the Eastern trade it is put up in tins or cartons. That trade is at our door, so to speak. It belongs naturally to the Australian producers, and it would be most regrettable if anything was done to hamper it. If only 1 per cent, of the people of China consumed our butter and our fruit we should have an immense market, and should not need to trouble about the European trade at all.
– The objections which have been raised by myself and other honorable members have been to the principle of the amendment; not with regard to any section of the export trade. I agree with the honorable member for Maribyrnong that the Eastern trade naturally belongs to Australia, and that, therefore, it may be left out of consideration. But the amendment which I foreshadowed will give power to the board to take certain action if the Eastern trade channel i3 being used to defeat the object of this bill. The clauses with which we are now dealing are the crux of the measure. I was very disappointed with the Prime Minister’s explanation of these provisions. The board will exercise no control over production intended for consumption in Australia, but if producers desire to export they must hand their product over to it. The Prime Minister did hot answer satisfactorily the supposititious case which I quoted of butter shipped ostensibly to South Africa, but intended really for Great Britain. He contented himself with saying that, if necessary, an amendment to deal with a contingency of that nature could be inserted in another place. The bill originated in this House, and surely the collective wisdom of this chamber, with its ‘76 members, is greater than that of another place which has only 36 members.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member is not in order in referring to the Senate.
– The Minister is to have full control of all butter exported to the European market, but not of butter exported “to South Africa, America, or to the East. It is only right that the producers should have some say in the disposal of a product in which they are vitally interested, and I regret that the Government propose to deal only with the control of butter for export. If the Minister is to have full control, the purpose of’ the bill will be defeated. The board should have control, but if the Government will accept an amendment to the effect that the Minister, on the recommendation of the’ board, can either issue or revoke licences, I shall be prepared to withdraw my amendment providing for control by the board. The honorable member for Kooyong pointed out the danger of giving full control of the export of butter to the Minister. I interviewed another member of the legal profession last evening, and he agreed with the honorable member for Kooyong, that the board would practically have no power if the control were given to the Minister. In such a case there would be no possibility of the provisions of this bill conflicting with those of the Customs Act. But if the Minister could act only on the recommendation of the board, any attempt by him to contravene the provisions of the bill would be checked by the operation of the Customs Act. The bill in its present form leaves too much to political control. I appeal to the Minister not to limit the control of export to the European market. I should not object to an exemption in the case of the Eastern trade, because it has its peculiarities. ,
.- This is the fourth occasion on which I have endeavoured to speak on this subject. The Labour party cannot be accused of having attempted to waste the time of the committee in discussing clauses 14 to 21. We have now an illustration of hasty legislation, and the blame rests absolutely on the Government and its supporters. If the Prime Minister wishes to protect the firm in Melbourne that sends canned butter to the East, there is nothing in the bill to prevent the Minister from granting a licence to that firm to continue its operations. There is no provision in the bill prevent? ing the Minister from issuing a licence to such a firm. But to get over the difficulty the Prime Minister has moved to insert in the clause two words “to Europe.” The bill originally provided for the control of butter exports to the whole world; but, if the amendment is carried, all but European countries will be exempted from its provisions. The possibility of dummying has been mentioned. There is nothing in the bill to prevent a firm from obtaining a licence to export, placing butter in 56-lb. boxes in the cooling chamber of a vessel calling at Colombo, and consigning it to some one there who would not take one box out, but simply re-consign it to London, in that manner breaking down the control system that “we are now trying to establish. The Prime Minister stated that, if he found that there was any danger in the proposal, it would be remedied in another place.’ But we are here, not to pass slap-dash legislation to be rectified in another place, but to give full consideration to all matters that come before us. The amendment should not have been moved until the Prime Minister was absolutely certain that it would not have a damaging effect upon the export of butter. He also said that no advantage would be gained by giving the board added power respecting the control of butter in Australia. He omitted to say whether there were constitutional difficulties in the way of giving this additional power to the board, but, if so, I should like him to explain them. It is well that the dairymen of Australia should know the provisions of the New Zealand act respecting the control of the export of dairy produce. Section 13 of that act reads - (1.) The Board is hereby empowered to determine from time to time the extent to which it is necessary, for the effective operation of this Act and the fulfilment of its purposes, that the board should exercise control over the export of dairy produce from New Zealand and may assume control of any such dairy produce accordingly. (2.) In any such case the control of the board shall operate as from a time to be specified inthat behalf by the board by notice given in conformity with this act. (3.) Notice by the hoard of its intention to assume control of any dairy produce may be given either by service on the owner of any dairy produceor on any person having possession thereof, or by publication in any newspaper or newspapers, in accordance with such conditions as may be prescribed. Every such notice shall, subject to the provision of this act, have effect according to its tenor. (4.) The control to be exercised by the board over any dairy produce may, as the board in any case determines, be absolute or limited. (5.) All dairy produce of which the board has assumed absolute control shall be shipped as the boarddirects, and shall be sold and disposed ofonly by the board, or by direction of the board at such times and in such manner and on such terms as the board in its discretion determines. (6.) Where the board has assumed limited control the extent of its control shall be defined by notice as aforesaid, or by agreement between the board and the owners of the dairy produce or other persons having authority to enter into an agreement with the board with respect to such dairy produce. (7.) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the foregoing provisions of this section, the board shall not exercise its powers underthis section with respect to the saleof any dairy produce if the board is satisfied -
It then deals with contracts that may have been entered into before the operation of the act. Such a provision, if included in this bill, would enable the board, not only to havecontrol of export, but also to take charge of all butter produced, and to determinewhat proportion should be exported. Unless there are constitutional difficulties in the way, this provision should certainly be included in the bill. I hope the supporters of the Government, particularlythe members of the Country party, willnot vote for the amendment moved by the Prime Minister, which, if carried, would place a loophole in the bill and have a damaging effect on the export control of dairy produce.
– It is now 4.30 o’clock, and the time for the discussion of clauses 14 to 21 inclusive has expired.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Mr. Bruce’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 15 to 21 agreed to.
Clause 22 -
The moneys paid into the fund shall foe applied by the board asfollows : -
In payment of the expenses and other charges incurred by the board or for which the board maybecome liable in the courseof its business;
in payment of the salariesand wages of officers and servants of the board;
in payment of travelling allowances, fees,or other remuneration to members of the aboard or of the London agency (not being persons permanently employed in the service of the Government) ; and
investment inany securities of, or guaranteed by, theGovernment of the Commonwealth or of any state.
.I move -
That alter the word “-expenses,’” paragraph (a), the words”and other charges incurred by the board or “ he lef t out.
This is a remarkableclause. It provides that all expenses and other -charges incurred by the board, the salaries and wages of officers, and the travellingallowances and fees of members of the board or of the Londonagency shallbe paidby the board out of a fund.In order to ascertain how that fund will be made up we have to turn back to clause 21 which, by theoperation of the “ guillotine “ standing order, the committeewas not permitted to discuss. That ‘clause provides for thecreation of a dairy produce export fund, into which are to be paid certain moneys received by theCollector of Customs under what is called the Dairy Produce Export Charges Act. There is no suchact in existence. Honorable members have had noopportunity toask whenthat act is likely to be passed, and the information was not volunteered. We are entitled to know how the money will be raised. In order to understand clause 22 we must refer to clause 21, consideration of which necessitates a study of clause 23. The latter clause reads -
Moneys held in the fund, uninvested by the board, may be lodged either at call or on fixed deposit, or partly at call and partly onfixed depositwith theCommonwealth Bank, or with any other prescribed bank, and while in such bank shall be held to be moneys of the Crown.
Apparently the moneys obtained from the dairy producers are to be invested by the board without their consent. I take it that the moneys to be raised are to pay the expenses that the board may incur either in Australia or London.
– Would I be in order at this stage in moving an amendment prior to thatof the Acting Leader of the Opposition?
– What justification can there be for providing the board with a large revenue derived by imposts on the producers? The primary object is to establish a. board, and money should be raised only to the extent required for its maintenance. What justification would theGovernment have in ‘-raising moneys in thisway,and investing itin securities?
– I call attention to thestate of thecommittee.[Quorum formed.]
– Sub-clause 2 of clause 20 states-
For the purpose of securing any advances made to theboard or at the request of the board, to the owners of any dairy produce placed under the control of the board,the board shall, by virtue of this act and without further -authority, have full power, onbehalf ofthe owners of the dairy produce, to give security over the dairy produce and to execute all mortgages and other instruments of assurance in the same manner in all respects as if the board were the legal owners of ‘the dairy produce.
Here we finally discover the means ‘by which the board is to raise the money. It is to havepower to raise it by mortgage as if it were the actual owner of the produce. If myamendment is not accepted this board, like all others, wall, no doubt, try to build up a large staff, and will incur heavy expenses.
– The Acting Leaderof the Oppositionis to be commendedfor having been sufficiently wide awake at thishour of the morning to notice the need for an amendment of theclause.
– Having listened tothe painstaking remarks of the Acting Leader of the Opposition, I submit for yourconsideration,Sir Neville, thatclause 22 is inextricablyboundup with the clause that precedes it, and that, ipso facto, clause21 must be open for discussion. Technically,clause 21 does not come withinthescope of our discussion, as itwas included in the list of clauses that were butcheredby the Government - if I maybe permitted to use that expression. But, having regard to the fact that it is boundup withclause 22, that is nowbefore the committee - referring,as itdoes, to themoneys that are to be paid into the fund - I suggest that -We should ‘be permitted to discuss it.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member for Batman, with hisextensive experienceof parliamentary procedure, must clearly recognize that clauses 20 and 21 have already been passed by the committee. I permitted the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) - justly, I consider - to refer to those clauses in order to lucidly put before the committee his objection to clause 22. The honorable member surely does not, on that account, expect me to uphold his point of order !
– I cannot understand a government that claims to be watchful of the interests of those who will be affected by this bill, introducing a clause which will give the board practically a free hand. Unless a strict interpretation is placed upon the words “ other charges incurred by the board,” there will be absolutely no limit to the expenditure that can be incurred either in Australia or overseas. I do not view the matter so much from the point of view of the man who is doing well in the industry. Some men, to-day, are fortunate in that they are working on freehold land, and, not having to employ outside labour, they are doing fairly well. I want to view the matter from the point of view of the share dairyman, and the man who is paying big rents in addition to employing outside assistance. Those men will not later be unmindful of the action of the Government, in giving to the board a free hand to spend moneys that have been provided by the dairymen of Australia. As the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) stated at the meeting last night, the pact has destroyed all the interest that formerly was manifested by members of the Country party in the welfare of the primary producers. The time and energies of those honorable members, are now absorbed in keeping the pact patched up. The honorable gentleman who, on one occasion, said “ switch on the light and make them drop tha loot,” to-day sits cheek by jowl with the very persons whomhe charged with an attempt to get away with the loot. Last Friday I condemned the Government for having brought down this measure without the subsidiary bill that is being kept somewhere in the background. We do not know tow the money for financing this scheme is to be raised or applied.. The only inkling we have had was conveyed in a remark that was made by the Prime Minister when moving the motion for the second reading of the bill. He then said that there is another bill containing the proposal that a levy of one-eighth of a penny a pound shall be imposed on all butter exported. Taking as a basis the exportations during the last three years, the amount so raised will be £50,000. Ministers declined to inform honorable members of what it was proposed to do with that £50,000, but this clause gives us some idea of the purposes for which it is required. A greater sum than £50,000 may be absorbed in the un-‘ limited expenditure that the bill permits. Very heavy burdens are being placed upon the shoulders of those who are engaged in the dairying industry. In Victoria there is a. licence fee amounting to 6d. a cow. There are also levies in the other states. It is safe to say that over the whole Commonwealth the fees and levies total very nearly £100,000. Therefore, in the form of those levies alone, £150,000 annually will be extracted from the pockets of those who are engaged in milk production. They are the only persons about whom we need concern ourselves. Nine-tenths of the men who today are engaged in the dairying industry would, I believe, oppose the appointment of these unwieldy and expensive boards. The electors of Gippsland already have reason to remember the name of Paterson in connexion with one curse which afflicts them, but the honorable member who now represents them in this House has given them reason to remember a second “ Paterson ‘s curse,” for by voting for the application of the gag to this bill he has prevented a full and free discussion of its provisions. He gave notice of an amendment that he intended to move, but by assisting the Government to apply the guillotine he has effectively prevented his amendment from being discussed. How will he justify himself when he faces his constituents ? I confess that I would not like to be placed in the position of honorable- members opposite, for when they are asked by the electors at the next election what they did to encourage the dairying industry they will only be able to say that they voted to gag the bill through this chamber, and thus prevent the committee from making it a useful instrument.
– I shall be able to tell my constituents how honorable members opposite forced me into this position.
– If the honorable member is honest with his constituents he will also tell them that he deliberately voted for the gag, knowing that it would prevent the discussion of his own amendment. Instead of stoutly resisting the application of the gag, as he could have done, he slavishly followed the Government, who are clearly opposed to the amendment he has foreshadowed.
– If he had walked out of the chamber it would not have been so bad.
– Twentyfour members are required to vote for the application of the gag, and if the honorable member for Gippslahd and the honorable member for Richmond, both of whom have professed great concern for the dairymen, had left the chamber prior to the putting of the gag motion the guillotine could not have been applied.
– I fully realize the honorable member’s lack of chivalry.
– “ Chivalry “ is good coming from that side of the chamber this morning !
– So far as the Country party is concerned, the “ age of chivalry is dead.” When the honorable member’s constituents, some of whom, doubtless, were present at the banquet to the honorable member for Wimmera last night, discover the kind of member they have representing them, they will be glad that they attended the banquet. After the Prime Minister got his gag motion passed, he left the chamber feeling certain that he could safely trust his slavish followers, such as the honorable member for Gippsland, to see the measure safely through. The honorable member, and those associated with him, are like little swallows sitting on the edge of the nest waiting for the parent bird to feed them. They profess to stand for the interests of the primary producers, but they swallow whatever the Prime Minister offers them. I am surprised that they are satisfied to accept this scheme without any kind of explanation from the Prime Minister of how it is to be financed. They do not know whether the primary producers will have to pay the whole cost or not. If the proposed1/8d. per lb. levy is intended to finance the scheme the struggling producers will have to bear the whole burden of it. I am more concerned about the producers than about any one else in this matter. There is no harder life in Australia than the life of a dairy farmer. No occupation is more exacting. The people engaged in it are kept going every day of the week, and they have a right to expect deeds and not mere words to help them in their present difficulties.
– The amendment moved by the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey), and the speech that has been delivered by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) are not worthy of serious comment. I should like to say, however, that the amendment appears to be a bogus one moved for the express purpose of preventing me-
– On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I direct your attention to the statement made by the honorable member for Gippsland. He has said that the amendment is a bogus one. That statement is unwarranted.
The TEMPORARY ‘ CHAIRMAN (Sir Neville Howse). - I am sure the honorable member for Gippsland will withdraw the statement to which objection has been taken.
– I withdraw it, Mr. Chairman, but I should like to point out that I did not say it was a bogus amendment. I said that it appeared to be a bogus proposal. Is that permissible?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.It is very doubtful. At this hour, the honorable member would be well advised not to use such words.
– At all events, my impression is that the Acting Leader of the Opposition submitted his amendment for the express purpose of preventing me from moving the one of which I had given notice, and which is being looked for by thousands of dairymen in Australia. What has been done to-night shows that honorable members opposite will adopt any tactics to prevent me from moving it. I should not have minded so much if the speeches mentioned had contributed to the debate, but I am satisfied that they have been delivered solely for the purpose of preventing me from bringing forward my amendment, and avoiding a declaration on the part of honorable members opposite as to where they stand on this question.
– That statement is an imputation of motives, which, before I go further, I should like to have withdrawn. You, sir, know that it is not in order for an honorable member to impute motives too other honorable members.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.An honorable member may impute motives that are not dishonorable.
– I stand corrected to that extent, but, in this case, the honorable member for Gippsland imputed dishonorable motives to members of the Opposition, who, he said, had deliberately done something to prevent him from moving an amendment which he had foreshadowed.
– Why the look of injured innocence?
– Innocence certainly I have ; injured greatly it has been. That is admitted.I hope, therefore, that the honorable member for Gippsland, whilst naturally smarting- under just reproof, will have the chivalry - I adopt his own phrase - that being a quality of which he pretends to have some knowledge - to withdraw the imputation of improper motives.
– I ask the honorable member for Gippsland to withdraw the imputation which, I understand, is offensive to the honorable member for Batman.
– I withdraw willingly the phrase, but the impression in my mind remains.
– The concluding remarks of the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) brought to my mind a conversation which I had yesterday on the show grounds with a primary producer of South Gippsland. He stated that the dairyman of to-day was encumbered with many troubles, including the encroachment of rabbits and the numerous fees which he is called upon to pay. Referring to this bill he added that it appeared to have been designed to impose fees upon the dairymen without guaranteeing them a commensurate return. Clause 21 provides that the income ofthe fund shall not be subject to taxation by a Commonwealth or a state and in clause 2.2 there is a provision for the investment of the funds in any securities of, or guaranteed by, the Government of the Commonwealth or of anystate.
Investors in Commonwealth stock, generally speaking, are called upon to pay taxation on their income, but the funds invested by the board will be exempt. This is unfair discrimination. The Melbourne Age, in a leading article published on Thursday last, trenchantly criticizing this bill, stated -
The scope of the board’s authority is indicated by an. elaborate statement of it’s powers, which, include” the handling, marketing, and storage of dairy produce, the shipment of the dairy produce on such terms and in. such quantities as it thinks fit, and the sale and’ disposal of dairy produce on such terms as it thinks fit.” In order to raise revenue for the combine, a levy of one-eighth of a penny per pound is to be collected on exported butter, and another of one-sixteenth of a penny per pound on exported cheese. In an ordinary year this ought to return £40,000 or £50,000.
It is clear that, out of this substantial fund, the board will be able to provide fees for its members, and establish a London agency. This will be another burden on the industry, in which the conditions of work are extremely onerous. On some dairy farms, even to-day, children of tender years are obliged to do a considerable amount of work. I know the conditions of dairy fanning. When I was a young lad I rose at early morn and milked cows.. I then walked 3 miles to school, and returned in the evening to again milk cows and perform other duties. This went on day after day. I have every sympathy for young children, especially little girls, who work on dairy farms. Now it is proposed to place an additional hardship on the dairy farmer, so that certain officials may live in ease and comfort.
– Officials whose duties are undefined.
– I said previously that the bill was clumsily drafted, but it is possible that there was design in that. The Age article states -
There will be fine lucrative posts for the board’s members, and also for its fortunate officials. The board must report to Parliament every July, when the ruling political party will be. able to exert its influence on its operations.
Were it not for the dread of the coming elections wider powers would have been prescribed in thebill to enable the Government to tyrannize over the dairy farmers, much in, the same way as Mussolini is ruling Italy to-day, and to limit the discussions in this Parliament to the supporters of the Government. According to the press there was a meeting last night of the co-operative butter and cheese factories of Victoria. I was the first secretary of that organization when it was established about twenty years ago. For seven years I was connected with the industry. At that meeting, Mr, W. H. Day, of Kyabram, stated that as far as any immediate relief to the industry was concerned, the bill was practically useless. It is strange how hearty is the endorsement of the Labour party’s views on this bill. Mr. Day is one of the directors of the Kyabram Dairy Factory, and when he expresses himself in such terms, we are able to realize the value that the dairy farmers place upon the bill. Yet the Treasurer said that this measure, when passed, would give immediate relief to the dairying industries. At the Show yesterday I met a dairyman who has a holding in Southern Gippsland. He told me that there was neither comfort, solace, nor help in the bill. From what he could gather of it, fees were to be collected from the dairy producers, and no benefit would be received in return.
– I call attention to the state of the committee. [Quorum formed.]
– This gentleman, a prosperous dairyman, informed me that the rabbit pest had appeared in South Gippsland, and that unless some assistance were given by the Federal and State Governments many settlers would be compelled to leave their holdings. Already a number of men had done so because of lack of financial backing, and their holdings were still vacant. He considered that the bill would be of no use, and that fees would have to be paid to support the board here and in London, and to meet other expenses. I conversed with him for nearly an hour, and I left the Showground feeling sorrowful because of what I had heard. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) tried to belittle the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey). I ask him to study paragraph a of clause 22, which reads -
In payment of the expenses and other charges incurred by the board or for which the board may become liable in the course of its business.
The amendment moved by the Acting Leader of the Opposition proposes to strike out the words “ and other charges incurred by the board,” with a view to limiting the expenditure. We on this side have had very little time at our disposal to fully discuss the bill, because of the ruthless application of the Standing Orders, which were never framed to allow honorable members of this Parliament to be subjected to the treatment that we have received on several occasions recently. There isno need to curtail this debate, because two months have yet to elapse before Christmas is reached. I should be delighted to follow the Prime Minister on the public platform if he could justify his action in curtailing the debate on a measure of the utmost importance to the dairymen of this country. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) stoutly, and, perhaps, violently, resisted the Government’s action. He did not use harsh or vulgar language, and his indignation was certainly justified. It was only an honest expression of opinion from the bottom of his heart. He was giving utterance to his disgust at the attempt of his fellow members to curtail the discussion on most important clauses. The dairymen of Australia will be told how shamefully they have been treated by the Government and its supporters.
– It is now 6 o’clock, and the time for the consideration of the remaining clauses of the bill has expired.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause (Mr. Anstey’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . 34
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clauses 22 to 30 preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– I move -
That the bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clause 21.
My reason for doing this, Mr. Speaker, is that during your absence through the night we have had a most dreadful time in this chamber. I can only express the hope that the groans of anguish that rose have not disturbed you in your sleep. During this troublous time we have had no opportunity to consider clause 21. That clause does not stand alone in that respect, because there were others, but it comes under special notice, because of the peculiar construction ofthe bill. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) moved for the application of an instrument known as the “guillotine,” by which means the Government chopped off a number of clauses of the bill ending at clause 21. As might he expected, in operating such a dangerous weapon, no trouble was taken to ascertain whether there was any connexion between clause 21 and the clause immediately following, which would have made it more appropriate to drop the guillotine at clause 20, so that clauses 21 and 22 might be considered in conjunction. As a matter of fact, these two clauses are wedded; yet they were mercilessly divorced by the motionsubmitted by the Prime Minister. It is painful for me to have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that honorable members on the Government side were nearly all asleep, but honorable members of the Opposition considered clause 22, and in it found references to the payment of expenses and other charges incurred by the board. Unhappily there was nothing before us to indicate how those expenses and other charges were to be met. We were not permitted to consider clause 21, in which the necessary provision is made, and I am now asking that even at this early hour in the day opportunity should be afforded to us to consider it. Clause 21 provides - (1.) There shall be a Dairy Produce Export Fund into which shall be paid out of the ConsolidatedRevenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, all moneys received by the Collector of Customs under the Dairy Produce Export Charges Act 1924.
Mr.Fen ton. - Unfortunately there is no such act in existence.
– That act is, as lawyers say, inventre sa mere, that is, it is in the pre-natal stage. The clause also provides - (2.) Where any account referred to in section twenty-three of this act is opened, payment into that account of the moneys mentioned in the last preceding section shall be held to be payment into the fund.
I trust, sir, that you, from your exalted position, will extol my moderation. I am not asking for much when I seek merely the recommittal of clause 21. I should very much like the Government to consent to the recommittal of all the clauses which honorable members have been prevented from discussing; and in a proper spirit of penitence, having the facts now before them, and the inadequacy of opportunity exemplified to them by experience, Ministers might very well consent to do even that. However,. I shall be satisfied for the moment with small favours, and if the Government will consent to the recommittal of clause 21 I do not say that I shallbe for ever grateful to them, but I shall recognize it as a belated act of very moderate and unexpected decency on their part. It is curious that, in the course of the debate in committee, clause 21, linkedup with clause 22, was shown by the Acting Leader of the Opposition to be closely interwoven with clause 23, which also refers to the moneys held in the same fund. If you, Mr. Speaker, had heard the honorable member for Bourke skilfully expounding his argument, you would be the more ready to agree that there is reason for the recommittal of the clause. We have gathered from hearsay that the dairy produce fund is to be created by a levy imposed on the whole of the dairying industry in the interests of certain highly paid individuals, and. we regard the fund, and the method by which it is to be created, with the utmost suspicion. By a careful calculation, the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) has proved that no less than £50,000 per annum will be exacted from the already over-taxed persons who carry on the industry. No information has been given to the committee, and no information is proposed to be vouchsafed to the House, as to how the money is to be expended. We know how it is to be levied, and we know the merciless Government whose instruments are to extract it, but the Prime Minister has given no indication that he is agreeable to the recommittal of the clause. Therefore, I hardly Enow what to say.
– The honorable member has ten minutes left.
– Yes . But I am distressed by the long sitting, and honorable members on this side of the chamber are anxious to have a rest.
– The measure has. been debated at great length. The second reading was discussed for many hours, and was eventually passed by the House without any compulsion being exercised by the Government. Every honorable member had the fullest opportunity for free speaking upon it. The measure was passed without a division, and it was considered acceptable to the House, but, for some reason that I cannot understand or guess, honorable members opposite adopted in committee a certain course having an obvious object. -Honorable members hope, some day, to occupy the Government benches, and, although it is a vain hope, they can appreciate the fact that it is a government’s duty to see that its legislation is passed, particularly when it is of importance to the great majority of the people. This bill has been framed to benefit that struggling section which the dairy farmers comprise, and about which we have heard so many expressions of pious sympathy from honorable members opposite. Judging by their actions they have not the deep sympathy with the dairyman that they would have us believe. I especially regret the action taken by the Opposition in concentrating their efforts upon minor matters, at the beginning of each clause discussed, and taking infinite pains to see that no important or fundamental issues were raised. I regret to say that the gentlemen opposite had a deliberate object in view. They desired, not to assist in passing good legislation, but to prevent a useful and urgent measure from being placed on the statute-book”. When they found that they could not succeed in doing that, they tried to gain a. position in which they would be able to make political capital for an election, which will not take place in the near future, as they confidently hope. The Government cannot accept the amendment, and I now move -
That the question be now put.
Question - That the question be now put - resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clause 21 (Mr. Brennan’s motion) - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 15
– How, then, can. this action be taken by the Prime Minister?
– I have no knowledge of the application of the guillotine in connexion with this bill. The Chairman of Committees has not reported the fact of its application, and the House knows only what is officially reported by him. The standing order to which the honorable member refers is No. 262a, sub -section VII. of which reads -
Standing Order “ A “ (The Closure) adopted by the House on 23rd November, 1905, shall not apply to any proceedings in respect of which time has been allotted in pursuance of this standing order.
– Time was allotted.
– By the committee, not by the House. The committee cannot govern the House.
– That is a wrong ruling.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– I was about to say that it is impossible for any committee to govern the House.
– May I ask, sir, how you become cognizant of the fact that a time has been fixed for the third reading of the bill?
– I am not. officially cognizant of it.
– May I convey to you information of what occurred in committee ?
– That would be quite irregular. The Chairman of Committees is the only person who is entitled to do that, when reporting the proceedings of a committee.
– As it is now more than half-past 6 a.m., which was the time fixed for the final consideration of the bill, I ask whether these proceedings are not ipso facto a nullity.
– I think that, on reflection, and after reference to the Standing: Orders, the honorable and learned member will see that they are not a nullity.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
– The question is quite pertinent. Honorable members individually may be aware of what was done in the committee of the whole, but officially the House knows nothing of the proceedings of the committee, except what is reported of them by the Chairman. I am operating the ordinary procedure, and that I must continue to do until some other procedure is adopted by the House.
Mr. BRENNAN (Batman) [6.35 a.m.).
Motion (by Mr.. Bruce) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided.
Majority . . … 14
Question bo resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the bill be now read a third time- resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
House adjourned at 6.43 a.m. (Wednesday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 September 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1924/19240923_reps_9_109/>.