17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Sfeaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Standardization of Gauges - Hay-Ouyen Line
– Is the Minister tor Transport able to announce the result of his recent negotiations with the State governments concerning the standardization of Australia’s railway gauges?
– I reply for the Minister for Transport; who is absent at the moment. On behalf of the Commonwealth, the Minister conducted negotiations with the State governments. Some difficulties were encountered regarding some of the States, but negotiations were continued.’ The Minister hopes to get agreement at an early date, if not in all cases, at least with the major States.
– Has the Minister for Transport given consideration to building the proposed railway link between Hay, Hew South Wales, and Ouyen, Victoria, so as to complete the shortest possible rail link between Sydney and Adelaide? If so, does he favour it? .
– This project was brought to my notice some considerable time ago. The matter has been fully considered by the Commonwealth transport department. The military authorities do not recommend it for strategical purposes, and Sir Harold Clapp, the DirectorGeneral of Rail Transport, has recommended against its inclusion in the plan to standardize the Australian railway gauges. He advises that it is a matter for consideration ‘ by the State governments concerned. I have advised people interested in the matter to approach the governments of Victoria and New South Wales. If the State governments were prepared to proceed with it but had difficulty in finding the necessary finance the Commonwealth Government would sympathetically consider an approach by them for assistance.
Broadcasting of Proceedings : Citizens Right of Reply
– Has the Prime Minister noticed the statement published in to-day’s press,that the Australian Broadcasting Commission will discuss next week requests by persons outside the Parliament for a right to reply to attacks made on them during the broadcasting of the proceedings of the Parliament? Will the right honorable gentleman, ‘in the interest of fair play and decency, cooperate by evolving procedurewhich will enable the persons affected to have their replies broadcast from thefloor of the House?
– I have not Been the report mentioned. I shall give consideration to the honorable member’s request.
– I -am concerned about the position of people who believe that they have been seriously misrepresented or slandered in the course of parliamentary proceedings which are broadcast over the air. Will you, Mr. Speaker, ascertain what is the practice in New Zealand in circumstances of that kind ; and, further, will you arrange to have this matter brought before the joint committee on the broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings in order that it may be examined and discussed?
– - In my capacity as chairman of the parliamentary committee, I shall certainly bring the matter before the committee for the purpose of discussion’. At the same time I shall investigate whether similar complaints have arisen in New Zealand, and if so, what is done about them? I am .not very much perturbed about the situation at present; I realize that a very few people can make a great noise. As eli airman of the committee I have not received any complaints and, as far as I am aware, the press has reported only one. If .the honorable member gets as much correspondence as I get from people with grievances, some real and some imaginary, he will agree that one would be only looking for trouble if he took notice of all who make complaints.
– I recently brought to the attention of the Minister for Repatriation disturbing features of the treatment of an ex-serviceman in my electorate who is suffering from war neurosis. Has the honorable gentleman investigated the case? If so, will he state the result of his inquiries, and what action has been taken? Does he intend to consider the provision of special institutions _ or treatment for ex-servicemen, suffering from -war neurosis?
– I have investigated this case. The ex-serviceman referred to was discharged on the 13th September, 1945, and was medically boarded a few days later., when the decision was that he “was suffering from mania and that his disability was “nil”. The Repatriation Commission, however, accepted responsibility for the disability. The condition of the man subsequently deteriorated. When the honorable member took the matter up with me, I had the man further medically examined. He “was taken to hospital, and on the 14th June was placed in Callan Park hospital. He is now drawing 100 per cent, .pension. At the time he was discharged his disabilities, were nil, and he was not . qualified to’ draw a pension. Then, as his complaint ‘ worsened, he received full pension benefits. The Chairman of the Repatriation Commission, General Wootten, is visiting Sydney now to investigate neurosis . cases. Last week, a deputation of specialists waited upon me to discuss neurosis, and arrangements are being, made to treat cases of this kind: Practically every eminent specialist in Australia is giving all the assistance he can.
Mb. F. M. FORDE, M.P.
Use of Am Forge Transport Planes
– Is it a fact, as stated in Smith’s Weekly and in the Brisbane press, that the Minister for the Army, with his retinue, has been making, expensive air jaunts from Sydney and .Canberra to his electorate of Capricornia in a government-owned Liberator or other aircraft for purely electioneering purposes? If so, will the Minister inform the House -how many such trips he has made in the last nine months, how. much each trip has cost the taxpayer, and whether he considers it improper’ to use governmentowned aircraft and airmen, and to spend public money, in such a way for political purposes ? Is it also a fact that the Minister took a government car and driver from Canberra to Rockhampton to drive him about to meet deputations?
-I never visited Rockhampton in a Liberator, as waa stated in Smith’s Weekly.
– Or in any other sort of aircraft?
– I last visited’ Rock.hampton three or four weeks ago and then I “travelled in a commercial aero1’ plane; but it is true that on a number of occasions I have visited, not only Rockhampton, but also Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne” and other places in Australia in aRoyal Australian Air Force transport plane. As acting Minister for Defence and Minister for the Army, I am entitled to use this means of transport and thus save time. The last time I went to Queensland in a Royal Australian Air Force transport plane, I called at Rockhampton and Bundaberg, and also, at the request of the GovernorGeneral. I went to Brisbane to attend a meeting of the Executive Council. I think it is very paltry on the part of the honorable member to raise this matter in view of the fact that he was one of those who has used transport in Royal Australian Air Force planes from Melbourne to Canberra. Does he think that a Minister of the Crown is’ not entitled to this quick, modem method of transport so that he may visit distant parts of Australia in the execution of his duty? While I was Acting Prime Minister 1 was able, by using a Royal Australian Air Force transport plane, to visit Perth, Busselton, Albany, Cunderdin,Whyalla, Renmark and Adelaide, and the people of those places had an opportunity to wait upon me in deputations. It is arrant nonsense for the honorable member to suggest that I have used Royal Australian Air Force transport planes for electioneering purposes. During the last two or three months, I visited central Queensland, southern Queensland and other places, and I maintain that a Minister of the Crown is justified in using this modern method of transport. Surely, a Minister of the Crown is as much entitled to use such Air Force aircraft as are available as are senior Army or Air Force officers who desire to fly from one part of Australia to another on official business. The honorable gentleman asked this question with tongue in cheek, knowing very well that he himself as a private member uses this means of transport.
Mr. G. J. RANKIN, M.P.
Weaking of Military Uniforms.
– Is the Minister for the. Army aware that during a State by election campaign in Victoria some time ago the honorable member for Bendigo, despite the order prohibiting army officers from wearing uniforms during political campaigns, appeared in the town of Maryborough, Victoria, dressed in army uniform and indulged in political propaganda on behalf of the Australian Country party candidate contesting that by-election? If the Minister is aware of this, will he take steps to ascertain whether on the relevant day the honorable member for Bendigo drew his Army pay in addition to his parliamentary allowance?
– Numerous complaints were made at the time about the matter raised by the honorable member. In fact, those complaints were sonumerous that I am satisfied there must have been some truth in them.
Damage by Frost.
– I am given to understand that research injection experiments for delaying the blossoming of apricots are being carried out at Leeton, New South Wales, to combat frost.Will the Minister have experiments of a similar nature undertaken in the Angas Valley, South Australia ?
– I read all of the reports issued by the Council for Scientific and industrial Research, but I do not recollect having read that the council has undertaken any experiments of that character. Experiments are, however, being undertaken by some other organization in the spraying of fruit trees in order to delay blossoming and thus combat the frost menace. I shall inquire into the matter, and if it is possible for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to undertake such experiments I shall see that consideration is given to the inclusion of the Angas Valley in the experimental areas.
Transport and Hotel Accommodation
– Has the Minister for Information seen the published statements that millions of dollars will be spent this year and in the following years, by American tourists? In view of what
Australia has to offer in both cheap services and places of interest to tourists, will he take the necessary steps in his department to ensure that Australia shall be fully publicized in America in an effort to attract the attention of tourists?
– Some months ago I called a conference of Commonwealth and State departmental officers interested in the attraction of tourists to this country with a view to the preparation of a plan along much the same lines as those on which . the honorable gentleman has spoken. Those officers gave a good deal of consideration to the matter of “ tourism “, as the traffic is now called in many countries, and are seised of the importance of bringing people to Australia; but all were equally -impressed with the fact that, whilst Australia has many attractions for people -who would wish, to see some of its natural wonders, beauty spots, and other attractions, there are not in Australia to-day adequate facilities for the accommodation of tourists. Hotels for the most part are out of date. There is not a sufficiency of them. Members of this Parliament going to the capital cities have the greatest difficulty, in common with the general public, in obtaining accommodation, and we cannot bring people to Australia unless we can accommodate them. Our railway systems are woefully but of date and hopelessly inadequate. We do riot want to bring people here who, on return to their own countries, will give us a bad advertisement. We must put our own house in order before we start bringing people here, but the necessary steps are being taken by the Commonwealth and State governments to make the preliminary plans to attract a large body of people to Australia year by year once travel and other facilities have returned to normal.
– I ask the Minister for Information whether the Government, with a view to attracting tourists to Australia, is likely to put into practice its policy of attacking large monopolies and private interests, by nationalizing the liquor trades in order to obtain their hotels?
– The Commonwealth Parliament has no constitutional authority to nationalize the liquor trade..-
For a number of years, the honorable member wa-s a member of the Parliament of South Australia, but I have yet to learn that he took any steps towards the objective that he now recommends to the Commonwealth Government.
– Can the Minister for Labour and National Service inform the House of the latest information regarding unemployment trends throughout Australia, and the percentage of unemployment to the population, with particular reference to Tasmania?
– As a matter of policy, the Government examines the labour market week by week. The last examination showed that, at the end of May, the total population of Australia waa approximately 7,400,000 persons. The number of unemployed in Australia this week is about 14,000. Therefore, the percentage of unemployed to the total, population is less than one-fifth of 1 per cent. As the Government considers that that method is not a safe way of gauging the trend of the labour market, we therefore exclude all rural workers- and all female domestic workers, because so many persons in both of those categories are members of the families of the proprietors, and are not salaried employees or wage-workers in the general sense of “ employment “. Consequently, we take the figures for the total number of wage-workers or salaried employees in Australia, which now number approximately 2,040,000, and the percentage of unemployed from week to week to that number reflects the trend of the labour market. Hardly more than one-half of I per cent, of the people receiving wages or salaries are at present unemployed. The figures for Tasmania are very good. The total number of persons unemployed in that State is 126, and of that number, 81 are receiving unemployment benefits, arid 45 are getting re-employment allowances, because they are ex-servicemen. Most of them are waiting to start training courses, or to get the right type of jobs for problem cases. One of the most important things which we have to watch is the trend of the labour market. In the last six months, the figures have created two all-time records in Australia. They show the largest number of people earning salaries or wages and the smallest number of unemployed.
– The Associated Chambers of Commerce of Queensland have complained bitterly regarding the disposal of lend-lease roadmaking machinery. In view of the inattention to the maintenance of roads during the years of war, and the requisition by the Commonwealth of roadmaking machinery belonging to the local authorities, will the Minister for Works and Housing explain the causes of the delay in the disposal’ of road-making equipment from lend-lease stocks in Australia? When will that machinery be made available to local authorities, which have been applying for it for years?
-I am notable to say, without some inquiry, what the position is regarding the release of lend-lease machinery which has come into the possession of the Commonwealth as the result of the recently completed agreement with the United States of America. The Department of Works and Housing expedites the return to local authorities of any machinery that the Commonwealth requisitioned from them during the war. Lend-lease machinery will be made available through my department as agent for the Disposals Commission to the States, which will have first claim on it, and, as usual, the local authorities will have second priority. Such machinery will be released through State committees and not directly through the Department of Works and Housing. The honorable gentleman will realize that it would be difficult for the Commonwealth department to deal direct with local governing bodies. The State authorities will receive their quotas and distribute the machinery. If a local governing body in the honorable member’s electorate desires to obtain certain equipment I advise it to make immediate representations to the State committee in Queensland.
– I ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction whether it is a fact that newspaper proprietors in New South Wales compel newsagents to enter into an agreement which prohibits the sale of a newsagency business to any person other than the one selected by a board representative exclusively of the proprietors, and so of the newspaper combine? Is there any legal basis or justification for the claim of such a board representative of the proprietors that a newsagent cannot acquire the goodwill of the newspaper-vending section of his business and that this goodwill remains at all times the property of the newspaper combine? If the answers to these questions are in the affirmative, can the Minister say whether the board extends preference to ex-servicemen in regard to the purchase of newsagencies ? Will the Minister consider what appropriate action can he taken to release newsagents from this tied-house system, particularly in relation to ex-servicemen seeking rehabilitation in the industry?
– I believe that it is a fact that newspaper proprietors insist upon the selection of newsagents through a board dominated by themselves. I do not think that the Commonwealth Government has any constitutional power to interfere with any such arrangement, though I deprecate the fact that such arrangements are possible. As to whether the board gives preference to ex-servicemen in the allocation of newsagencies, I am certain that it would be covered by the Re-establishment and ‘ Employment Act, and insofar as that act applies would be bound by it. 1 suggest that any ex-serviceman who is debarred from obtaining a newsagency by any action of this board or of the newspaper proprietors should obtain legal advice as to whether action can be taken to compel the hoard or the proprietors to extend preference to him.
– Can the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction give the House any information about the number of overseas firms, and Australian firms whose capital is derived partly or wholly from overseas, which have interested themselves in establishing new industries, or expanding existing industries, in Australia? What is the total amount of new capital involved, and what effect is its investment likely to have on Australia’s economy?
– Many overseas firms have interested themselves in establishing new industries or expanding existing industries in this country. Speaking from memory, the total annount of capital involved is about £8,000,000. I shall make inquiries and supply more detailed information to the. honorable gentleman later.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the maritime unions in Sydney have declared black the steamer Katoomba?. Has the right honorable gentleman read the statement attributed to the secretary of the Council of Maritime Unions, Mr. E.-V. Elliott, that those unions are confident of being able to prevent this vessel from sailing? Is not Katoomba now operating under Greek ownership? What action is intended by the Government with a view to preserving the existing friendly relations between Greece and Australia?
– I have not read any statement on this matter, but I have heard a radio broadcast announcement of some trouble in regard to Katoomba. There is no official information of which I am aware at the moment. I shall make inquiries, and advise the honorable member later.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs state whether duty at the foreign rate is charged on material of British Empire origin if it is made up in another British dominion and the manufacturing cost is less than 50 per cent. of the total cost, despite the operation of imperial preference and inter-dominion trade agreements? If so, will the Minister consider making such materials subject to duty at British Empire preferential rates ?
– This matter is a very important one, involving some research. I shall discuss it with the Minister for Trade and Customs, and shall obtain the information which the honorable member seeks.
– Will the Minister for the Army state what number of points a soldier needs to have to his credit in order to be assured of almost immediate discharge?
– As the points entitling a soldier to discharge change weekly,I shall have to make inquiries. At times, a soldier may have the number of points entitling him to discharge, but because he occupies a key position or has special qualifications it may be necessary to hold him in the service in order that another soldier with far more points may be released. I shall obtain the information, and let the honorable member have it as soon as possible.
Royal Navy Stores: Involvement of Coal-mining Craft Unions.
– There is a grave threat of the dislocation of coal production because the dispute at the Royal Navy stores in connexion with the seniority of members of the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Union may be extended to the coal-mining industry. On many occasions, coal-miners are blamed for disputes for which craft unions are responsible. Only a small proportion of the total membership of a craft union may be associated with the coal-mining industry. That industry is not concerned in the present dispute at the Royal Navy stores. Will the Minister for Labour and National Service say whether the proposed joint Commonwealth and State coal legislation will make provision for disciplining and imposing penalties on members of craft unions associated with the coal-mining industry, as well as on coal-miners?
– The dispute referred to has no connexion with the coalmining industry, but affects a number of men engaged by the Royal Navy who are now in Australia. It arose out of an attempt by a Boy al Navy official to cany out regulations laid down by the Royal Australian Navy. It has not been possible for some time to separate the two administrations. The Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin) and I negotiated for a settlement last night, and we believe that one will be reached to-day. Thu matter is in the hands of the Arbitration Court. The contention of the cranedrivers is that the principle which operated prior to the war, of the last man on being the first man off, should be applied, but that would conflict with Navy regulations. The matter involves only a transfer from one position to another, and no crane-driver in New South “Wales is likely to be unemployed. Legislation in respect of the coal-mining industry is a matter of Government policy. Nevertheless, I can say with certainty that it will have nothing to do with the men involved in this dispute.
– Recently in this House, I referred to a. Royal Australian Navy administrative decision which had disqualified a young seaman from entitlement to his deferred pay because, after some years of service and the cessation of hostilities, he, upon the refusal of his commanding officer to grant to him leave to visit his home in order to meet, for the first time for years, brothers who had been prisoners of war, absented himself without leave for a fortnight and then returned voluntarily to his ship, whereupon he was posted as a deserter. Will the Minister for the Navy state whether any decision has been made or action taken in the matter?
– In accordance with my promise to the honorable member, I referred the matter to the Naval Board for further consideration. I have ascertained that the statutory regulations governing it are definite and preclude the exercise of discretionary power which it might be thought the Naval Board would have. Under those regulations, a member of the Navy who has been absent without leave for a period is automatically posted as a deserter, and loses his entitlement to what is described as deferred pay. I have consulted the Prime Minister about the matter generally. It is considered that the time may have arrived when there should be a different method of imposing discipline, and that a determination should be reached as to whether money now described as deferred pay should be 50 regarded or be placed in the category of good conduct pay. The Prime Minister has agreed with me that a committee to determine the matter should be set up, and I am glad to announce that the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) and Mr. Watt, a Treasury official, are examining every aspect of this and all other cases of the kind which from time to time have been placed before me. I trust that a satisfactory adjustment may be possible. .
Film Laboratory at “ Yarrein “.
– Is it a fact as reported in the Melbourne press, that the Minister for Works in the Victorian Government said that he would not permit “ Yarrein “ to be used for film processing purposes, as this would make it a factory within an area intended for residential purposes? If this is a fact, does the Minister for Information propose’ to make the area available for residential purposes?
– I have read a statement to the effect that the Minister for Public Works in Victoria said that he would not allow the by-law of the Prahan City ‘Council to be varied so as to enable “ Yarrein “ to be used as a laboratory for the processing of certain films. I have received no official advice from the Minister, but I shall see him to-night at a meeting of the central committee of the Australian Labour party, of which we both are distinguished members, and I have no doubt that everything can be arranged satisfactorily. I am disinclined to believe’ what I have read in the newspapers; but in any case, I can still fall back on the National Security Act, if necessary, in order to give effect to the desire of the Government that the Department of Information shall be suitably housed in the premises we have taken on the advice of Mr. Westhoven, the officer appointed by the Department of the Interior, to advise on office accommodation for Commonwealth departments in capital cities.
Motion (by Mr. Johnson) agreed to-
Thatleave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918-1940, and for other purposes.
Declaration of Urgency.
Mr: CHIFLEY (Macquarie - Prime
Minister and Treasurer). - I declare that the Wheat Industry Stabilization Bill 1946 is an urgent bill.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That the bill be considered an urgent bill.
Allotment of Time.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That the time allotted in connexion with the bill be as follows: -
For the remainder of the committee stage, until 5.45 p.m. on Tuesday, 23rd July.
For the remaining stages, until6 p.m. on Tuesday, 23rd July.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the18th July (vide page 2802).
The Minister may, in respect of each season, by notice published in the Gazette, declare a date to be the final date of that season, and, after the publication of any such notice, any person whoconsigns or delivers to a licensed receiver any wheat harvested prior to that date shall make and forward to the licensed receiver a declaration correctly stating the season during which that wheat “was harvested.
– I move -
That the words “, after the publication of any such notice, any person who”, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words:- “any person who. after that date,”.
This is a drafting amendment to conform with the phrasing in State bills. Its effect is that a date may be notified in the Gazette as the final date for delivery of that season’s wheat. After that date, any of the season’s wheat delivered must carry a declaration saying what season it belongs to. The idea is to prevent old wheat from being delivered with the newseason’s wheat. This amendment enables the date for declarations to be notified in advance, whereas the words omitted would have made the declaration necessary immediately a notice was gazetted. However, it takes a little time for Gazette notices to be circulated through the wheat belt, so this amendment provides time for advice to be circulated before the date when the declaration is necessary.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 21- (1.) For the purposes of this Act there shall be a Wheat industry Stabilization Board. (2.) The Stabilization Board shall consist of-
.- This clause proposes to establish a Wheat Industry Stabilization Board, and it is of tremendous consequence to the growers, because this is the board which will decide whether a man may grow wheat, and how much he may grow. The stabilization scheme is supposed, to be controlled by the growers, but they are not to be given an opportunity to place a representative on. the stabilization board, which is to consist of a chairman, an executive member and one other member, each of whom shall be appointed by, and shall hold office during the pleasure of, the Minister.
– They are to be handpicked.
– That is so, and they will be absolutely subservient to the Minister of the day.
– They will not bt.- responsible to the growers.
– In no sense whatever will they be responsible to the growers. Thus, an aspect of the industry which is of fundamental importance to the growers will be outside their control altogether. They will not even be able to offer advice on it. I can anticipate the excuse that will be given for this provision. No doubt, it will be the one that was offered by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) last night about another matter, when he said that a certain provision was the same as that inserted in the National Security Regulations by the Government which I supported. In anticipation of that defence let me say that there can be no sensible or useful comparison between decisions taken during the emergency of war, and measures related to the conduct of an industry in time of peace. Arbitrary decisions were taken by Ministers and persons appointed by Ministers during the war, covering not only the wheat industry but also rates of pay, conditions of labour, price fixation, and the whole conglomeration of controls with which we became so familiar and from which, consistent with the maintenance of stability, most Australians now desire to escape. We had during the war an authoritarian State in which the executive possessed complete power and the mass of the people had no option but to obey its dictates. If the Government ber Heyes that that is a proper state of affairs to be continued in respect of the wheat industry it could devise no better body to perpetuate it than the Wheat Stabilization Board constituted in the manner proposed by the Government. What my party believes in and what I understand the growers to want is freedom to operate the wheat industry consistent with the maintenance of its stability. The primary purpose of the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board is to decide how much wheat shall be planted and by whom it shall be planted, because in any scheme in which there is an implication of Treasury responsibility no . sensible person can pretend to disregard the relationship between the volume of production and possible Treasury liabilities. My party recognizes that stability in this industry calls for a background of Treasury responsibility. It is prepared to accept the principle of some control of the volume of production and of a total of Treasury responsibility. But it says that a measure which has been represented to the wheat-growers as designed to give control of their own industry to a board on which there is a majority of growers will be quite adequate if that board be the sole authority to exercise power in respect of the sale of wheat and to advise the Minister relative to the control of the volume of production. That being the policy of my party, I propose to move an amendment. If it be approved the intended stabilization board will be abolished and consequential amendments will vest its powers and function in the Australian Wheat Board. I should like the Minister to explain what possible good reason there can be against the Australian Wheat Board being his adviser in respect of the control of the volume of production. I am not proposing that the Australian Wheat Board should have absolute authority to decide the volume of production and who shall produce wheat, because that would have the effect of removing to another body decisions which would have tremendous Treasury implications; but I am suggesting that the Australian Wheat Board, on which there would be a majority of grower representatives, is a completely adequate body to advise the Minister on matters pertaining’ to the regulation of production. I remind the Minister that if that were done the growers could expect the advice tendered to the Minister to be more free and unbiased than would be possible if the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board, the members of which are completely dependent on ministerial decision for their appointment and the tenure of their office, were to be his adviser. That obliges me unhappily to refer again to a state of affairs to which I have made reference previously, and which is improper and obnoxious, namely, that the present excutive member of the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board, Mr.
Cullen, for some years held the dual offices of executive member of the board and president of the Wheat Growers Association of Victoria. As president of the association he is unpaid ; but as executive member of the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board he holds a position in the service of the Government for an indefinite period which returns him £1,000 a year and allowances. He advises the Government on matters which have Treasury implications, and he also performs functions as the representative of the growers and the president of their association in Victoria. He has not been able to reconcile the conflicting duties of these two offices - I am sure that no man would be able to do so. In the circumstances his appointment as executive member of the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board constitutes one of the most improper acts of public administration this Government has ever perpetrated in relation to the wheat industry. What has been the outcome? As executive member of the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board, Mr. Cullen has travelled many thousands of miles about Victoria, and I believe that his expenses have been met by the Government. I would be glad to be informed as to the correctness of that statement. During the course of that travelling, however, he has taken . the opportunity to attend meetings of wheatgrowers, and without a single exception has attacked opponents of the Government. It so happens that I have been selected as the principal object of his attacks. It is wrong to permit the continuance or risk the recurrence of that state of affairs. So I intend to move an amendment to delete from the clause the provision to establish a Wheat Industry Stabilization Board. If that amendment be agreed to, I propose to move consequential amendments to provide that the Australian Wheat Board shall be the sole adviser of the Government on matters that it is proposed shall be handled by the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board. Then a board, the majority of members of which will be representatives of the wheat-growers, will advise the Minister and act under his direction. Instead of the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board I propose the establishment of a body, the necessity for which should surely be apparent, namely, a body, whose members the Minister himself would select and appoint, whose function would be to inquire into and report upon costs of production of wheat and the price which from year to year ought to be the guaranteed minimum price. There can be no stabilization of the . wheat industry which disregards the cost of production. I move -
That, all the words after “ Act “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “ there stall be a Primary Industries Costs Commission which shall -
investigate the costs of production and other relevant factors necessary to determine the minimum price per bushel bagged at growers’ sidings to be guaranteed to the wheat industry; and
make an annual recommendation to the Government of such price.”
– This clause has nothing whatever to do with prices.
– I quite recognize that. I propose that this obnoxious clause be deleted and replaced by the provision contained in my amendment. The proposal is in accordance with the policy of my party in respect of not only the wheat industry but also every other major primary industry. That policy is that the major primary industries ought to be stabilized, not on the basis of some price which is arrived at by gazing at the stars or by drawing a marble out of a barrel, as the price provided for in this bill has apparently been arrived at, but onthe basis of an intelligent recommendation as to the prices that are necessary to stabilize them. Therefore, I want the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board stifled before birth, the Australian Wheat Board to he the adviser of the Minister and the executive body under the Minister’s directions, and the establishment of a commission to investigate and report upon costs of production in primary industries.
.- The Government cannot accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen). It is impractical, unrealistic . and fatuous. The honorable member knows quite well that the State governments control the production pf wheat. This bill has been brought forward as the result of an agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the State governments. Under no conditions will the State governments hand over to the Commonwealth Government the control of production. The honorable member suggests that the Australian Wheat Board should act as adviser to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, who should, on its advice, control production. He knows perfectly well that that cannotbe done.
– I do not acknowledge that.
– The Australian Wheat Board is purely a marketing authority. The board set up under clause 21 is a board to control production.It will have on it representatives of the States. They insist on that because they insist on retaining control of production.
– I support the case submitted by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen). My view is’ that the problem of a wheat surplus will be created by two factors, one, the acreage in the different countries, and, the other, seasonal conditions in the different countries. It stands to reason that the creation of a surplus in Australia will depend on acreage plus seasonal conditions. Therefore, if there is any section on which the growers are entitled to representation more than any other, it is in the section in which the creation of the problem will take place. It is interesting that the Government is prepared to concede the growers representation on a board so soon as the problem has been created, but not on the board concerned with the prevention of its creation. We do not know what the State legislation will contain. If we did, perhaps our attitude would be modified. It is singular that yesterday, on another clause, we had a first-class debate about State representation. On the proposed board that will be concerned in the creation of the problem, the States are to have equal representation, but on the board that will have to handle the problem when it has been created, the two States with the greatest home market will each havetwo representatives and the two States with the greatest export trade will each have only one representative. Whatever way we measure it, this clause is completely wrong and should be withdrawn and redrafted. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) talked about the responsibility of the States for acreage. The States are also responsible for acreage in other directions. Consider, for instance, what the Minister must know of the acreage of wine grapes. Notwithstanding that the State government is supposed to limit the acreage of these grapes, it is governed by a Commonwealth act. I was in this Parliament when it passed the legislation under which the prices to be paid for wine grapes was fixed by the Commonwealth board, not a State board. So there is nothing in logic, administration, or lack of precedent to deny the validity of the case that the honorable member has put forward ; but, knowing the temper of the committee, the axe having fallen, I leave it at that. I know what the growers will think of it.
– I support the amendment. The honorable member for Indi has given ample reasons why there is no need for a wheat industry stabilization board, which he proposes to replace with a primary industries costs commission, which shall-
As the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) stated, there are boards and commissions which perform functions similar to those that the proposed wheatauthority should exercise. For example, the Tariff Board is the statutory authority to investigate costs in secondary industries which require, consistent with the national fiscal policy, certain protection, subsidy or guidance. Indeed, the Tariff Board, in addition to investigating secondary industries, extends its inquiries to certain primary industries, notably cotton. Recently, it thoroughly investigated thecotton industry in order to provide for the Government a scientific basis for the granting of financial assistance. The sugar industry, which is periodically investigated, is the most stabilized industry in Australia. The home-consumption price of sugar is based upon the cost of production under “White Australia conditions and standards. Those conditions are determined by an authority which examines all the ramifications of the industry, and its conclusions form the basis of any assistance granted to it, consistent with fiscal policy.
The amendment proposes the creation of a similar authority to investigate costs of production and conditions in the wheat industry. Honorable members should realize that those costs will not be static, but will vary from day to day in accordance with national and international fluctuations of price. The increases of the cost of production over the years, as shown by the Commonwealth Statistician, emphasize the need for the appointment of a permanent board to examine conditions in the wheat industry, so that the growers may receive fair treatment. Compared with employees in secondary industries, primary producers do not get an adequate return for their labour. For instance, dairy-farmers, who supplied butter factories in New South “Wales in 1944, received for 1 lb. of butter-fat 25 per cent. more than they were paid in 1941. Yet, during that period, the prices of manufactured goods which the dairyfarmers required increased by more than 175 per cent. Therefore, those dairyfarmers had to pay more for their requirements out of a relatively lower income. The same story can be told regarding the maldistribution of the Australian national income between city-dwellers and industrialists, and primary producers. That disparity will not be adjusted by subsidies or artificially fixed, prices in the hope of meeting the changing internal and external conditions. All those factors should be taken into consideration. The great wheat-growing industry has not been thoroughly investigated for a long time. Some years ago, the Gepp Commission made some attempt to compute the costs of production, but its report is now out of date.
The amendment is consistent with the policy of the Australian Countryparty. An investigating authority should be appointed to determine an equitable basis for the fixation of the home-consumption price of wheat, and conditions in the industry. Indeed, the Government should set up a statutory body similar to theTariff Board to give to the primary industries the careful consideration that the board gives to secondary industries.
.- Members of the Australian Country party are adopting an unreal attitude. Because of constitutional limitations, this stabilization scheme will not be administered wholly by the Commonwealth. The scheme can be operated only by co-operation between theCommonwealth and the States. Before this legislation was drafted, extensive negotiations took place between the Commonwealth and State authorities. The Commonwealth, naturally, has endeavoured to obtain from the States the widest possible powers for. this purpose, but the States are determined to retain certain powers relating to the production and marketing of wheat.- Therefore, in order that this scheme may operate, the Commonwealth and the States were obliged to accept the stabilization board. If honorable members will examine the clause, they will see that the board shall consist of -
Each State insisted uponhaving the right to appoint a member of the board, so that it might retain certain powers over the production and marketing of wheat. In order to stabilize the wheat industry, the Commonwealth had to agree to the proposal. If the Commonwealth had wider constitutional powers, it could create one board to undertake the whole of the administration, and, in my opinion, the work would then be carried out more efficiently than it can be under the present arrangement. However, the Commonwealth must make this legislation comply with the Constitution and meet the requirements of the States.
The Minister has given an undertaking to appoint an authority to ascertain the costs of production in the wheat industry. The Gepp Commission conducted a similar inquiry in 1934. One feature of its report which impressed me was the disparity between the prices at which wheat could be grown profitably. Some farmers could grow wheat profitably at 2s. a bushel, whilst others could not produce it profitably at Ss. or 10s. a bushel. It is most difficult to determine what is a profitable price. All that any commission can do is to arrive at a fair average price. Because of drought conditions and adverse economic circumstances, wheatgrowers in some districts need a much higher price than wheat-growers in other districts where seasonal and economic conditions are more reliable. These factors were taken into consideration by the Government, which has provided a reasonable price for wheat. We should not endeavour, in any way, to chase tha inflationary (prices that are operating abroad to-day. The outstanding feature of Australian administration is its stability. In other parts of the world prices are either out of hand or getting out of hand. ]f the price of wheat were fixed having regard to these inflationary tendencies overseas, the prices of meat, butter and clothing, the cost of housing, and wage rates would all have to be reviewed, and it might happen that, although the wheat-growers, under such circumstances, received twice as much for their wheat, they would be worse off than under the stabilization plan which the Government is now proposing. As the Minister has indicated that he is prepared to arrange for an inquiry into wheat production costs, I cannot see any reason for accepting the amendment. This scheme has had to be devised because pf the constitutional relations between the Commonwealth and ‘ the States. The Commonwealth has had to meet the requirements of the States, which are being given a measure of control over wheat produced within their boundaries.
The board will be representative of all the States. I consider that the clause should be agreed to without further debate.
– I support the amendment. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) knows, in his heart, that the State committees will have no authority. They are designed, as a matter of fact, as a means of enabling the Minister to ascertain the views of certain individuals engaged in the wheat industry, who are to be used as stalking horses. -I do not agree with the statement of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) concerning Mr. Cullen, whom I know very well. I believe Mr. Cullen to be honest and sincere, though I consider that he is mistaken in his policy on this subject. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) made the remarkable suggestion that we should not, in any way, follow the inflationary trends abroad. Apparently he does not consider that we should accept a high price for our wheat which is sold abroad.
– I did not make any suggestion of the kind.
– The honorable member definitely made the suggestion. If he can arrange for Canada, and other countries, to supply us with oil, motor vehicles, and other goods at a reasonable price, he would be well advised to do so. In. the meantime I make it clear that I am opposed to calling upon the Australian farmers to accept a price below the cost of production for .their wheat. As the Treasury will be required to accept some financial responsibility in regard to this scheme, I concede that there should be some governmental control of it; but the people who grow and own the wheat should be permitted to choose the members who will serve on these State committees, and the committees should be independent and not be subject to the whim of the Minister.
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has been a fairy godfather to this industry.
– Then _ I hope that other Australian primary industries will he protected from similar fairy godfathers. A Minister who consented to the sale of wheat for manufacture into dog biscuits when starving people need wheat to eat, andwho approved of the sale of wheat to Peru at 7s. Id. a bushel, to New Zealand at 4s. lOd. a bushel, and to India at 5s. Id. a bushel, all about the same time, has a good deal to answer for. The wheat was sold to New Zealand in order to bolster up the Labour administration of that Dominion, and this was done at the expense of the Australian wheat-growers. The Government is also supporting, at the expense of the wheat-growers, the industrial section of our community, which it hopes will vote for it at the coming elections. Because of seasonal and war conditions the Government was compelled to grant concessional wheat prices to those engaged in the dairying, poultry and pig-raising industries, to enable them to produce for export at a price that had been accepted from the United Kingdom Government; but almost all through the war, Canadian cattle-raisers were paid £6 per cental for export beef, whereas the Australian cattle-raisers received only 50s.
– And a breakfast costs 8s. in Canada!
– I am aware of that fact. I was in agreement with the Government policy of providing, during the war, a concessional price for wheat for the industries I mentioned, but I am definitely opposed to its present policy of treating certain sections of the Australian community more favorably than certain other sections. ‘
– The Australian Wheat Board is about to be paid £11,500,000 in respect of wheat which it made available, at the concessional price, for stock feed.
– My point is that the wheat-growers should not be required to continue to make sacrifices for other sections of the community. This stabilization scheme is being financed not by the Government, or by the community, but by the wheat-growers themselves, and, having regard to the use being made by the Government of the present high export price of wheat, this scheme should be described as equalization, and not one of stabilization. I again urge that the committees proposed to be established shall be assured of independence and shall he directly representative of the wheatgrowers. (
.- Honorable members opposite either have not read the bill or have no realization of the meaning of responsible government and no knowledge of the Australian Constitution; because, if there is no board there will be no control of production or licensing. The Australian Country party proposes that that board shall be entirely abolished.
– It does not.
– That would be impossible; in any case it would be most irresponsible. The effect would be to destroy the whole stabilization scheme. Each State is to be allotted a certain acreage; therefore, each must have a representative on the board to advocate its policy. As the honorable member for Indi (Mr. -McEwen) has said, being unable to examine the State legislation we are working to a degree in the dark, and can be guided only by what occurred when a board was previously constituted under National Security Regulations. On the State committee there will be a chairman, who will be the nominee of the State government and two growers. That policy was followed by the previous government, and was continued by this Government. One can only assume that a similar policy will be implemented in State legislation. The ultimate authority must rest with the Executive, which is responsible to this Parliament. That is democratic procedure. The assessment of the cost of production will be one of the most difficult matters that will have to be determined. The Gepp Commission, which cost £50,000, reported that some farmers could produce wheat at ls. Id. a. bushel, whereas the cost to other farmers waa 19s. lid. a bushel. Some of the costs at that time were much less than present-day costs.
– A similar range of costs will always be’ found in any industry.
– That is true. But it is more pronounced in the wheat industry than in the dried fruits industry referred to by the honorable member. The most difficult problem of the wheatgrowers is that caused by seasonal variations. Such fluctuations are not so wide in the fruit-growing industry or in districts that are irrigated.
– Similar conditions would be more likely in the wool industry than in the dairying industry.
– The dairying industry is carried on in the surer rainfall areas. Fodder can be conserved to carry stock over dry periods. That may increase the cost of production, but a complete loss is not sustained. On a wheat farm, one season may produce a crop which returns an income of £2,000 or £3,000, and in the following year the income may drop to £500 while the expenses remain static. Admittedly, the farmer would not need so many hags, and the cost of his carting would not be so great, but the costs of kerosene, superphosphate, labour and interest would not be altered. This problem has to be overcome.
– The honorable member admits that the Opposition has a case.
– I admit that there must be a cost basis.
– Then why not make provision for it in the bill?
– The proposed commission would not effect the desired purpose. The endeavour must be to relate the main cost items to a prices index, similar to the index used in the calculation of the basic wage. If that can be done, a happy medium will be struck. . But, regardless of what basis may be fixed, many farmers will he unable to make a profit, whilst others will make a good living.
– That is true of every industry.
– We need only focus the spotlight on the feature of the hill now under discussion to gauge its .meaning. If we examine it closely, we gain a clear conception of what is proposed. I protest against its unfairness. I was highly delighted by the reference of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) to Mr. Cullen. ‘
A remark by the Minister for Commerce ant’. Agriculture (Mr. Scully) seemed to imply that I had attacked Mr. Cullen in this Parliament. Nothing could be farther from the truth. What I said was that >many supporters of the bill are on the pay-roll of the Government. That is a fact. Mr. Cullen has. been a personal friend of mine for about 25 years, and I regard him as a man of high integrity. Although he has spoken in favour of the bill in my electorate, surely honorable members must realize that I am sufficiently broad-minded to admit that he has the right to express his opinion! I have the greatest regard for him, and deny that I referred to him in any way in the statement that I made. Clause 21 provides that the Wheat Stabilization Board shall be appointed by the Minister. It must be noted that the board will have full power to curtail production, should it appear likely that a call will be made on the treasury for funds to maintain the guaranteed price of wheat. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Lemmon) has said that we are working in the dark. He may be in the dark. If he is, I shall endeavour to enlighten him. I can state facts and figures, but cannot give to honorable members opposite the faculty of comprehension. The honorable member for Forrest has said, that each State will be allotted a certain acreage, and must therefore have representation on the board. I agree with that. But such representation will have to he approved by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. If the men nominated by the States were appointed, my objection to the clause would disappear. That the Minister will have the right to approve of State nominees, is unjust. Surely wheat is the property of the man who produces it! The wheat-growers are striving for a fair stabilization scheme, and the stabilization board must be composed of men who .really represent the industry. The history of government interference with the control of production in this industry is well known. Such interference has had disastrous effects on the industry. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction has said that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has filled the role of a fairy godfather to the wheat-growers. Even children know that there are good and bad fairies ; they learn that at- school, and from their bed- time stories. If the Minister is to be a fairy godfather, then every wheat-grower in the Commonwealth will be a Father Christmas. The amendment is most opportune. The honorable member for Forrest has admitted that some means must be devised for ascertaining the. cost of production, and has suggested that it might be similar to the means adopted for fixing the basic wage. I agree with him in that respect. I am willing to accept any reasonable proposition. If from a basic wage of £6 a week the Government were to subtract £2 a week for payment into a fund to maintain the wage scale, what an outcry there would be ! The Government would never attempt such a thing. Yet it proposes’ to deduct 33 per cent, of the receipts from sales of wheat, in order to maintain the price which it intends to guarantee to the growers. It is evident from the wording of this clause that control will rest with the Minister, not with the growers. An attempt has been made to make the growers believe that they will control the stabilization scheme, but it is clear now that they will have no effective say in it? direction.
– That is not true.
– It is true. The members of the stabilization board are to be appointed by the Minister, and to hold office at his pleasure.
– Does the clause provide that the Minister may not appoint a producer to that board?
– No, but it does not provide that he shall do so. The bill should contain something definite on this point.
.- Yesterday, I said that members of the Opposition were making a political football of this bill - that they were, in fact, trying, to destroy it. I .have here an article which. was published in the Ouyen and North-West Express, from which I quote the following: -
Desperate, efforts are being made by members of the Australian Country party to discredit, not only the Scully . Wheat Plan, but also the whole stabilization scheme, and with it orderly marketing. without which the wheat-grower is doomed.
Over a number of years we have seen what portfolio-seeking politicians have done to the wheat industry. The grower has been used as a “ political football “, especially by men such as Mr. McEwen, M.P., and other Australian Country party members. The game is on again - and God help the grower if he takes notice of the propaganda being poured out by these men who, in the past, have sold the industry.
We think that the daily prayer of such politicians must be : “ Please God, give the wheat-grower a short memory, and let us forget (publicly) what we did to him in the past”. This sudden concern for the poor wheat-grower is, to put it candidly, stinking hypocrisy. What did Mr. McEwen do for the grower when he had the chance? How much did the growers lose on the price of 3s. lod. per bushel so graciously given by the Government which these men kept in power? What, indeed, has the Australian Country party ever done for any primary producer? Looking back over its sorry history all one may say is that it wept tears over him when it was out of office - and laughed his genuine need to scorn when it was in office.
That is exactly what I told honorable members yesterday. Those who sit in opposition are trying to sabotage the bill. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) admitted yesterday that he was here to destroy it.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) said that, in the course of my speech yesterday, I admitted that I was here todestroy the bill. Never on any occasion did I say that, and nothing could be farther from the truth than the honorable member’s charge.
– The honorable member said that he was here to destroy the bill.
– The word “destroy” has an entirely different meaning from the word I used. I will not have words put into my mouth by the honorable member. I demand that he withdraw his statement and apologize.
The ‘ CHAIRMAN.- The honorable member for Wimmera has made his personal explanation.
– On a point of order: I understand that it is the practice’ to require an honorable member to withdraw a statement to which another honorable member objects. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) has asked that the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) be required to withdraw the statement to which he has objected.
– An honorable member may demand that another honorable member shall withdraw an unparliamentary expression, but this is merely a question .of the veracity of the honorable member for Hume as against the veracity of the honorable member for Wimmera.
– The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) has just treated us to a long extract from a newspaper published at Ouyen. It has nothing more to do with the clause than have the flowers that bloom in the spring. I suggest that the honorable member for Hume should be looking forward, rather than back, and taking measures against the time when he will see the tartan of the clan McDonald throughout the length and breadth of his electorate. He will then, have a good deal of explaining to do, and he should get ready for it. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Lemmon) made out a reasonable case with which I largely agree. Indeed, he advanced excellent reasons why he should be on this side of this chamber supporting the Deputy Leader of the Country party (Mr. McEwen)
As for inquiries into the cost of production, I point out that, in any industry, he it primary or secondary, there will be some who cannot produce at the average cost. At the best, it is possible to arrive al, only an average cost of production for the wheat industry. The Deputy Leader of the Australian Country party has asked that some competent authority be appointed to determine from time to time what is the true average cost of producing wheat in Australia. That is a perfectly reasonable request, and it cannot be evaded by indulging in personalities or quoting from newspapers published at Ouyen or Timbuctoo or anywhere else.
.- I had not intended to speak on this bill in the committee stage, but. after listening to the hypocritical speeches of honorable members apposite, and after comparing their speeches with their actions in the past, I cannot remain silent. The wheat-growers must wonder how such men ever came to be elected to this Parliament as representatives of rural interests. Honorable members’ opposite are careful not to tell the sad story of the depression. I saw photographs published in the Melbourne newspapers of farmers leaving their properties in the Wimmera with all their goods and chattels piled on a truck. Honorable members opposite did nothing for the wheat-farmers then, and now they aretrying to destroy a bill which . promises them security for at least five years, and perhaps longer. Honorable members opposite do not tell us that in New South Wales, during the depression, 2,000 farmers were receiving help under the Wheat-growers Relief Act. They were, in fact, on the dole. At that time, four members of the Australian Country party held office in the government of the day. They do not tell us of the many suicides that took place among farmers because the government, which included members of the Australian Country party, refused to help them. They do not tell us that pigs were sold in the Wagga saleyards at ls. a dozen, the price of a dozen -bananas. They do not tell us of the plight of the dairy-farmers during the depression. Members of the Australian Country party are certainly no credit to this Parliament. They have no desire to help those whom they are supposed to represent, and now their only ambition is to mislead the people and to destroy this hill. They have been doing the same sort of thing for the last 25 years. The honorable member’ for Wannon (Mr. McLeod) read an extract from an article in the Melbourne Herald which showed that a world shortage of wheat could be turned into a world surplus in two years; yet honorable members opposite say that they can predict the price of wheat foi- five years ahead. Neither can they, nor any one else, predict the price for five weeks. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) and the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) held portfolios in previous governments, but they never did anything to help the. farmers. On the other hand, those on this side who represent the rural constituencies can he given 100 per cent, marks for their sincerity in endeavouring to assist the man on the laud. The so-called Australian Country party has never been a country party at all, and never will be. Its members are nothing but rank hypocrites of the worst kind I have met during the whole of my career.
– The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Langtry) in an impassioned speech referred only to what took place in the past and said nothing whatever about the clause or the amendment before the comimittee. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) read an extract from an article which appeared in the Ouyen and North-West Express. Honorable member’s will recall that during the reading of the article I asked on several occasions who had written it, but the honorable member evaded the question. I challenge 1 1 i m now to disclose the name of the writer.
– The honorable member may obtain a copy of the newspaper and see for himself who wrote the article.
– Ever since I have been a member of this chamber I have noticed that when certain honorable members have nothing original to contribute to a debate they fall hack upon the published statements of other people. However, they are usually courageous . enough to acknowledge the name of the person whose views’ they quote. I am unable to understand the obstinacy of the honorable member in this matter.
.- The speeches of honorable members from the Government side have been notable, with the possible single exception of the speech of the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Lemmon), for their omission of any reference to the clause or to the amendment.
– That is hardly fair. With due modesty I believe I may claim to have contributed something towards the discussion
– I accept .the correction. Because of his inability to make any useful contribution to the debate the honorable member for Hume was driven to quote from a newspaper article criticizing a member of this chamber. There would b<’ no difficulty in finding many such articles criticizing me, the honorable member for Ballarat (Mi-. Pollard) or the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman). Even the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) has on rare ‘ occasions been attacked in newspaper articles. The quotation of newspaper articles is perhaps the most futile way of filling in time during a debate. I regret that the honorable member for Hume, having no constructive ideas on the subject before the Chair, had to resort to that expedient. Our good friend from Riverina (Mr. Langtry) attempted to play on our emotions by picturing the wheat-growers leaving their farms. I point out, however, that the plight of the wheat-growers was at its worst during the regime of the Scullin Government, and in the period immediately following its relinquishment of office when governments which I supported were attempting to clean up the mess. That, however, is past history ; I am sorry the honorable member referred to it, and I leave it there. The honorable member for Forrest opposed the amendment primarily on the ground that it was impossible to determine a cost of production basis that would adequately cover the position of every wheat-grower. T agree with him that that is impossible of achievement. Any one with a knowledge nf the wheat industry knows that that is so. My amendment was drafted with the full knowledge of that fact. If honorable members opposite had paid attention to what I said in moving the amendment they would know that I had worded it with sufficient flexibility to cover exactly the state of affairs envisaged by the honorable member for Forrest. It will be recalled that I referred to the necessity for the establishment of a primary industries costing commission to investigate costs of production and other relevant, factors necessary to determine the minimum price to be guaranteed to the wheat industry on a bagged basis at growers’ sidings. In the United States of America a price index is established on a. base year and, using what is there described as the principle of parity, the price is related from year to year to the parity index. The honorable member for Forrest had in mind something of that nature, as I certainly did when I drafted mv amendment.
– How was the base arrived at?
– A base year was taken and those responsible for the scheme in the United States of America related the value of wheat in that base year to the value of certain other -commodities. Accepting the result as a fair basic figure they now from time to time relate the price of wheat to the new level of the factors that existed in the base year. I believe that to be a very useful principle which should have a part in our economic approach to the problem of the wheat industry in Australia. Costs of production are a definite factor in assessing a fair price. The price of kerosene, rates of wages, machinery costs and interest charges are among the factors envisaged in the amendment. I cannot understand why the honorable member for Forrest, who appears to be the only member on the Government side who has an intelligent understanding of the measure before us, cannot see his way clear to support the amendment.
– How was the base figure arrived at in the first place? Was there an inquiry into costs of production ?
– No inquiry was held. They took as a base a year when the economy of the United States of America was accepted by all concerned as being balanced.
– Balanced in every respect except that there was a large number of unemployed.
– In that particular year there was not an unusually large number of unemployed.
– Nevertheless, the number was very great.
– I would say that in any country which has a population of 120,000,000, as the United States of America had at the time the base year was chosen, there would inevitably he a comparatively large number of unemployed. In the year accepted in the United States of America as the base year the number was not so great as to have brought about, an unbalanced economy.
– What was the base year?
– I believe it was 1911. The honorable member can obtain that information from the Parliamentary Library. That disposes of the matter of the cost of production, without which stabilization of the wheat or any other primary industry would be impossible! My intention was to cover a much wider field than would be encompassed by a narrow interpretation of the term “ cost of production “. Replying to my earlier speech on this clause, the Minister said that my amendment could not be accepted by the Government because itwas designed to abolish the Wheat Stabilization Board, whose functions an; principally related to the control of the volume of production, and to transfer its functions to the Australian Wheat Board. The honorable gentleman said’ that that could not be done as control of production within a State does not come within the ambit of the constitutional authority of the Commonwealth. The duties of the stabilization board- are set out in very concise terms in clause 23. Lt will be seen from a reading of the clause that the board has nothing to do with the production of wheat in the States. It is to control and regulate the production of wheat in any territory. I am sure the Minister will agree that it is not intended that the word “ territory “ shall include the Northern Territory or the Jervis Bay area, and accordingly that the board’s responsibilities in respect of the control and regulation of wheat relate only to the Australian Capital Territory. The average wheat area sown in the Australian Capital Territory since 1938 has been less than 2,000 acres.
Sitting suspended from 1S.J/-5 to 2.15 p.m.
– The Minister described as fatuous my suggestion that the Australian Wheat Board should be accepted in substitution for the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board as adviser to the Minister of the day and as the authority to act for him in the regulation of production.’ I have pointed out that the bill sets out that the duties of the board are related merely to the control of production of wheat in Commonwealth territories. It must refer only to the Australian Capital Territory. If we take the Minister’s statement at its face value, as he intended the committee to take it, it is rank stupidity to establish a Wheat Industry Stabilization Board of so many members, to regulate the production of wheat in the Australian Capital Territory where the average annual sowing is less than 2,000 acres. The present board, with a smaller membership, carries a pay-roll of £3,000 for members, let alone all the salaries of officials, appurtenances and other expenses associated with such a body. On the face of it the proposal is stupid, and I am sorry that the Minister misled the committee in that respect. The intention of the bill, of course, is that the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board shall, by virtue of the authority -delegated to it by the State governments, regulate the production of wheat throughout Australia; otherwise there is no need for it. Any executive action taken in respect of the regulation of acres sown and the persons who may sow wheat in this country ought to be taken only on the advice of the Australian Wheat Board, on which the growers have representatives, and not by a board consisting of mere nominees of the Minister.
– Order ; ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 22 to 29 agreed to.
The Minister may arrange with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia for the making by that Bank of advances to the Commonwealth for use on its behalf by the Board for the purposes of this Act, and may guarantee to that Bank the repayment. out-of moneys lawfully made available by the Parliament, of “any advance made by that Bank in pursuance of the arrangement.
Mr, DEDMAN (Corio- Minister for
Post-war Reconstruction and Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) [2.20]. - I move -
That the words “ the Commonwealth for use on its behalf by “ be left out.
This is a drafting amendment. The words proposed to be left out are considered unnecessary since the Minister will be acting on behalf of the Commonwealth.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 31 to 33 agreed to.
Any person who commits a contravention of, or fails to comply with, any provision of this Act for which no other penalty is provided shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding One hundred pounds or imprisonment for six months or both.
Amendment (by Mr. Dedman) agreed to-
That the words “ on summary conviction “ he left out.
– I move -
That the following sub-clause be added: - “ (2.) Any offence against this Act may be prosecuted summarily.”
The alterations are intended to provide that offences under clause 17 may be prosecuted summarily.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 35 and 36 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 11th July (vide page 2405), on motion by Mr. Scully -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- I move -
That all the words after “That” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted to provide -
that the 1945-46 crop bc excluded;
that a ten-year period be substituted for the five-year period envisaged in the Bill;
that the Board shall keep a register of growers each year showing the respective amounts diverted to the Stabilization Fund which in the absence of such a fund would have been payable to each grower as his entitlement under the realization of the Pool concerned; and
that an actuarially sound .scheme be adopted designed to permit an equitable distribution of his share to each participating grower, his executors and/or assigns in the event of certain contingencies, inter alia, death, termination of the scheme and/or excessive credits in the Fund.”
I take that action because I believe that in fairness to the wheat-growers the 1945-46 wheat harvest should be excluded from the wheat pool. The farmers in “the last seven or eight years have fought against droughts, war, lack of labour and lack of fertilizers, and are in such a position that it is absolutely essential that they receive the full return for their 1945-46 harvest. This amendment must be adopted if the wheat-growers are to be rehabilitated, and the industry is to be made -prosperous .and take its proper place in our national economy. I do not propose to deal- with that aspect at length, because honorable member’s debated it extensively on the Wheat Industry Stabilization Bill.
Regarding the proposed ten-year plan, we know that the world demand for wheat at present greatly exceeds the supply, and that large numbers of men who were diverted from wheat-growing to the armed forces and to produce arms and munitions will not return to the industry for some years. In the circumstances, the Government’s five-year plan is a mere pretence at effecting stabilization, because the wheatgrowers will be deprived of the full return from the sale of their crops for that, period. The money will be paid into the stabilization fund, but wheatgrowers will have no certainty that they will receive from the fund payments equivalent to the real value of their crop. For that reason, I propose that the board shall keep a register of all wheat-growers and a record of the amount which is paid annually into the fund. Some growers advocate the adoption of an insurance scheme for ten years, but I admit that they could not expect to obtain the return of the total premiums which they pay into the fund. An insurance company is not a benevolent institution. If a person pays premiums on a policy for a number of years, he is entitled at’ any time to receive its surrender value. I suggest that wheat-growers who contributed to the stabilization fund and later retire from the industry should receive the equivalent of the surrender value of their interest in it. For example, a man might decide to sell his property because of the continuance of drought conditions, or because his sons, who had been assisting him, had left the parental homestead and established their own. farms. As the result of the lack of assistance, the father may not be able to continue to grow wheat, and might decide to convert his holding into a grazing property. In three or four years, he might have paid into the stabilization fund a considerable sum of money. Surely he is entitled to participate in any distributions from the. pool? Serious anomalies may occur here. A man might begin to grow wheat after the fund has been in existence for three years. About that time, the industry might suffer the effects of a serious decline of prices, and the newcomer will be entitled to participate in distributions from the fund. In my opinion he is not entitled to that assistance. If a farmer who has contributed to the fund for several years dies, surely his widow is entitled to his equity in the fund 1 His equity was created by his labour, and the sale of his wheat. The proceeds from the realization of his crop were paid into the fund. I should like to know what policy the Government will adopt towards this fund if, at the expiration of five years, there is such opposition to the plan that the Government decides to abandon it. What will be done with the money in the fund ? Will the Government do as it has done with other trust funds, namely, pay the money into Consolidated Revenue and expend it on one of its own pet schemes that has no relation to the wheat-growing industry? My amendment is perfectly fair, and the wheat-growers expect the Government to adopt it. I fear that the Government has already definitely decided to reject the first two proposals, but it should have no objection to keeping a register of growers and safeguarding the interests of those growers who contribute to the fund. If the Government rejects the whole amendment, it will fall down on its job very badly, and forfeit the little remaining faith that the wheatgrowers have’ in it.
. I support the amendment. As the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) pointed out, the wheat-growers who contributed to the. stabilization fund and who, through no fault of their own, withdraw from the industry, should have their equity protected. A man may have only a temporary permit to grow wheat. If the permit be cancelled he will .be deprived of his right to participate- in any distributions from the fund. Again, if, during the five-year period, a farmer dies, his heirs will not be able to claim his equity in the fund. The bill should contain a provision having the effect of a life assurance policy. A policy-holder may be due to draw from an insurance company a certain sum of money- on his attaining the age of 60 years. At the age of 57, he may decide to cash his equity in the policy. He is entitled to its surrender value.
– ‘Order! The amendment is entirely out of order. The bill o is founded on a resolution of the Committee of Ways and Means, and that resolution was adopted by the House. The terms of the resolution may not be varied at this stage in the manner proposed by the amendment.
– I rise to order. For the benefit of honorable members, will the Chair explain why the proposed amendment does not comply with the Standing Orders, because the substantive proposals of the amendment, I have no ; doubt, can be discussed? I should like the Chair to assist honorable members on this nice point of procedure, by explaining whether, by some alteration, the amendment can be made to conform to the Standing Orders.
– When the resolution upon which this bill was founded was agreed to, no specific sum of money was mentioned. The decision of the committee was that it was desirable to introduce a bill to impose a charge upon the export of wheat and wheat products. Tt did not specify what charge; it dimply said “ a charge “-. The argument that, because the committee resolved that it was desirable to impose a charge,, no charge other than that provided for in. the bill which the Parliament had not seen can be discussed is Gilbertian. It would be condemned in a political kindergarten, and even in’ a legal kindergarten. The right of the Executive under section- 56 of the Constitution has been referred to the Standing Orders Committee, and the decisions we get are utterly ridiculous.. They are not even consistent.
– The honorable member is reflecting on the Chair.
– I am not: Las:, night a statement was made on theadvice of the Crown law authorities, who,. I contend, should not step in at all in a matter of this kind. The Parliament conducts its own. business, and if therebe any dispute on this matter it should be referred to the Standing Orders Committee. If you, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, persist in this ruling, I shall have no alternative but to seek a seconder to a motion that the whole matter be referred to the Standing Orders Committee. Last night I spoke of certain amendments moved in committee. Some were declared out of order because they would impose on the community a charge greater than that recommended by ‘the Executive. Others were not challenged on that ground at all. If a ruling were consistent, then, wrong as it might be, one could understand the reason for it. After a message from the Governor-General, recommending an appropriation, has been reported, Mr. Speaker leaves the Chair, the Chairman of Committees takes his seat and the Minister submits to the committee a proposition without any explanation whatever. It is agreed that it is desirable to do so and so, but the reasons for doing that are not explained. That is a matter of form on which a hill is founded. A Minister moves that he and a colleague do prepare and bring down the bill. .The Minister’s explanation, as justification for presenting the bill, is made after its introduction, and not at the stage when the Governor-General’-s recommendation is reported. If I tried to discuss the matter in committee at that, stage- the Minister would immediately point out that he wa« merely asking for authority to bring down the bill, and that at. that stage he did not propose to disclose its contents. That is an impossible procedure to impose on the Parliament.
– It is exactly the same procedure as that observed when the honorable member was a Minister.
– No Speaker associated with the Opposition parties has ever ruled that we could not discuss a proposal which would involve an increase of an appropriation. A ruling of that kind may have been given when a bill providing for the payment of a certain pension was under consideration. I can well recall that when the Opposition desired to increase a defence vote, Mr. Speaker ruled that the motion was obviously one which would increase the charge recommended by the GovernorGeneral; but the amendment which has been ruled out of order asks, not that the charge be increased, but that the bill be withdrawn in order that consideration may be given to certain matters. The present position is intolerable, because it is wrong, and in conflict with common sense and well-established parliamentary procedure. If the ruling be founded upon advice given by the Crown law authorities, they appear to know no more about parliamentary procedure than my Persian cat knows about astronomy.
– The position that has arisen as the result of this ruling is rather amusing. Indignation is expressed, by members of the Opposition, although the ruling is in conformity with those given in similar circumstances ever since the honorable .member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), the honorable member for indi (Mr. McEwen) and I have been members of this Parliament. That is a period of about twelve years. When those honorable members were in office precisely the same procedure was followed. If the La.bour party, when in Opposition, attempted to circumvent, measures, the government of the day followed the procedure laid clown in the Standing Orders. In these r’ays the Standing Orders were satisfactory to the present Opposition. But now we find honorable gentlemen opposite anxious to stage a fight on the assistance proposed to be granted to the wheat-growers, and they are indignant because they are prevented by the Standing Orders from doing so. The honorable member for Barker remarked that the position is Gilbertian, but after all, the Parliament itself is the master of its own business. Under the present Standing Orders the conduct of the business has never been hampered, and the reflections that have been cast on the Chair are unworthy of the Opposition. The Standing Orders in operation to-day are those which operated when the Opposition was in power. The object of the honorable member for Indi and the honorable member for Barker is to hamper legislation proposed by the Government with regard to. the wheat industry. This bill is designed to assist the primary producers, whom members of the Australian Country party claim to represent but merely misrepresent.
– I nile that the amendment is out of order, and may not be debuted.
– The bill should provide that a wheat-grower who had contributed to the fund and had to withdraw from the scheme through no fault of his own should have returned to him a fair proportion of his contribution. As I have pointed out, but must repeat, a grower might have many reasons for withdrawal. I refer particularly to the temporary issue of licences as one of the principal reasons. Should the stabilization board withdraw some licences after the holders of them had contributed to the fund for two or three years, what would be-the position of those men? An account should be kept of the contributions to the fund, and the contributors should be entitled to have a large proportion returned to them, just as a man who, at the age of 58 years, mav accept the surrender value of an insurance policy which in the ordinary course would mature when he had reached the age of 60 years. Contributions should be returnable only when a grower had withdrawn from the stabilization scheme through no fault of his own. I realize that withdrawal at will could not be permitted. Upon the death of a wheatgrower, his widow might need financial aid. His estate should be credited with a just proportion of the amount he had contributed to the stabilization fund.
Those growers who may be obliged to withdraw from the scheme through no fault of their own must be protected. Failing such protection, -a definite anomaly will exist. Honorable members on this side of the House have already stated what they consider the bill should contain, and have contended that the 1945-46 crop should be excluded from the scheme.
-Order ! The honorable member will be in order in debating the disposition of the money in the stabilization fund, but not in referring to the 1945-46 crop.
– A ten-year period should be substituted for the proposed five-year- period.
-Order! The bill does not contain any reference to a period. It relates to the payment of money into a fund, and the disposition of it. The honorable member will be quite in order in referring to growers who may withdraw from the fund.
– I rise to order. By clause 6, the bill declares -
This act shall continue in operation until a date (not being earlier than the thirtieth day of September, One thousand nine hundred and fifty). . .
Clause 4 states - (1.) A charge is imposed and shall be levied and paid -
Therefore, I respectfully submit that the bill does contain references to a period, and that the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) would be in order were he to discuss the need for either shortening or lengthening it. ‘
– The honorable member’s comments .have not convinced me that I should alter my ruling.
– In stressing the necessity for a provision to protect those growers who withdraw from the scheme through no fault of their own, I am submitting a legitimate case. If the bill is to conform to the standard of British justice that we enjoy, the Minister must agree to such a safeguard.
.- The House is entitled to an explanation by the
Government in reply to the very important point that has been raised by the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull). Clearly, some persons with a vested interest in- the stabilization fund may not be able to realize on it because of the circumstances outlined by the honorable member. Their product will be sold, and a part of the proceeds will be paid into the stabilization fund. They will have a continuing interest in it so long as they are covered by the .scheme. What will happen in the event of the death of a contributor or the sale of his .property is not clear to me, or, I am certain, to many other honorable members. Those are very likely contingencies and doubtless they will arise in many instances. The matter vitally affects all the wheatgrowers who will be embraced by the scheme. I trust that the Government will do the House the courtesy of stating its policy and of announcing the degree to which the interests of these growers will be protected. The hill cannot be allowed to pass without some explanation being made.
.- So far, I have refrained from engaging in the debate. I am prompted to enter it now because of the merit of the proposal to which support has been lent by many honorable members on this side of the House. I am astonished that the Minister should evade the issue. If I occupied the position that he holds, I would not shelter behind rules of procedure or standing orders, but would seize the opportunity to answer the vital question that has been raised. The proposal of the Government is to- stabilize the wheat industry for five years. It is conceivable that at the end of that period the stabilization fund may have to its credit as much as £50,000.000, or even £100,000,000. The proposal of the Opposition is that a record shall be kept of the contributions of all growers, so that, in the event of the liquidation of the fund, a proportion of the amount remaining in it after the deduction of administrative costs shall be paid to each contributor to it. The matter is of vital interest to the producers, and I cannot understand why the Minister wishes to evade the issue. In a few simple words he could satisfy the House that the Government has had the contingency in mind and is making provision to meet it; yet we have had nothing but silence from him-. Even though honorable members are not to be allowed to debate the amendment, they are entitled to know what will become of the stabilization fund should this scheme cease to function, and there had been no withdrawals from it to finance any crop. The question is one to which every wheatgrower in this country will demand an answer.
– In my twelve years’ membership of this Parliament I have never previously been faced with a set of circumstances similar to those which exist in connexion with this bill. When the Wheat Industry Stabilization Bill was introduced, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) delivered a second-reading speech. Indeed, he was good enough to have his speech typed beforehand and to supply a copy of it to each honorable member. That speech was headed “ Wheat Industry Stabilization Bill; SecondReading Speech by the Honorable W. J. Scully, Minister for Commerce and Agriculture “. At that time we had not seen the Wheat Export Charge Bill. I have read the Minister’s second-reading speech on the first-mentioned measure carefully, and only in two places does he refer to the existence of another bill to be brought forward later.
– Order ! I draw attention to Standing Order 266, which reads -
No Member shall allude to any debate in the same Session upon a Question or Bill not being then under discussion . . .
Reference to the second-reading speech of the Minister on a previous bill is therefore out of order.
– There has been no second-reading speech on the bill before the House. My experience of parliamentary procedure is that it is customary .for a Minister, when introducing a bill of this description, especially one which may cease to operate after a stated period - in this instance, five years, during which £50,000,000, or even more, may be paid into a fund - to explain what the measure sets out to do.
– The Minister did that.
– When ?
– In Committee of Ways and Means.
– A secondreading speech cannot be made in Committee of Ways and Means.
– The Chair has no knowledge of what takes place in committee.
– The House has no knowledge of what takes place in committee. From the ministerial bench there has not been, in this House, one word in explanation of this bill; yet the_ Parliament is asked to agree to it. I repeat that this is a bill under which the wheat-growers of Australia will be asked to pay into a fund, the disposal of which will be entirely at the discretion of the Crown, a sum of money which may well exceed £50,000,000. Notwithstanding the importance of the measure, the House has not heard from the King’s Ministers one word of explanation as to why that is to be done, or how it will be done. You, Mr. Speaker, have ruled that we may no’t refer to a previous debate of this session. I shall not transgress your ruling, but I point out that the second-reading speech by the Minister on another bill did not give the explanation to which the House is entitled. And so we are forced to the conclusion that there is something connected with this bill which the Ministry wishes to evade, or for which it is not ready. It is strange - indeed that two interrelated bills were brought in at different, times, and that although one was explained in a second-reading speech, the other was brought in without such explanation. Any one who takes’ even a cursory glance at the bill must realize that it is an important measure. The first question which arises relates to the beginning of the bill. This bill is to have a retrospective beginning, because, according to clause 4, it goes back to the 1st October, 1945. That is to say, it sets out to deal with a crop which has already been reaped - a crop which was sown under war conditions and’ ‘was subject to . National Security Regulations. It was reaped under those regulations, and was also disposed of under them. 1 challenge the Minister to say that last year’s crop has not yet been disposed of.
The Minister wants to put the clock back for nearly a year, and to say to the farmers of Australia that, in respect of a crop which has been in the hands of the Government for many months they are to pay into His Majesty’s Treasury a sum equal to 50 per cent, of whatever the crop may realize in excess of 5s. 2d. a bushel - an amount which had been estimated at 2s. 2d. a bushel on 123,000,000 bushels. It does not require a very old f scholar to work out what amount that represents. Retrospective legislation is always difficult to justify. It may be significant that, on this occasion, the Government has had sufficient wisdom, and has shown sufficient political perspi- cacity, to refrain from attempting to justify something which cannot be justified by logic or principle.
– “Nonsense !
– The honorable member is an authority on nonsense, but not on wheat. I repeat that retrospective legislation is always hard to justify; it is bad legislation. Whenever a government asks the Parliament to pass retrospective legislation, I become suspicious.
– The honorable member has a suspicious mind.
– A member of His Majesty’s Opposition needs to be suspicious. It is the duty of an opposition to turn the spotlight of research and inquiry upon a measure which the government of the day proposes to place on the statute-book. That is what an opposition is for. I think that the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), who has just entered the chamber, would be the last’ man to refute that statement; and I have no doubt that when he was in opposition he acted in accordance with that rule. I repeat that retrospective legislation is always hard to justify, but when a bill is placed before the House without any second-reading speech by the Minister to explain it, there, are good reasons for honorable members becoming suspicious. The circumstances associated with this measure are particularly suspicious and call for more than an ordinary explanation by the Government. Just as everything must have a beginning, so everything must have an ending, unless it is to continue interminably. This bill provides for an ending as’ well as for a- beginning. Clause 6 declares that this legislation shall continue in operation until a date, not being earlier than the 30th day of September, 1950, to be fixed by proclamation as the date upon which it shall cease to be in operation. That means that this legislation shall not cease to operate earlier than that date, but there is nothing in the clause to say that it shall, in fact, cease on that date. It ‘may continue in operation after the 30th day of September, 1950, although it cannot cease to operate earlier. All that the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) asks is that the Government will consider the necessity for lengthening the period for which this legislation shall remain in operation. He suggests a period of ten years. There may be cogent reasons why the period should be extended to ten years, and when the bill reaches the committee stage 1 predict that there will be a thoroughgoing discussion on that aspect.
The next important matter to which I wish to’ refer is the effect of this legislation on individual contributors to the fund which it will set up. As a wheatgrower, I have had some experience of wheat pools. I know that for every grower contributing to a pool there is a separate account showing his transactions with the pool. At any time, he can be told by those in charge of the pool how many bushels of wheat he has contributed, the amount credited to him in respect of that wheat, how many pounds have been deducted from his account for freight and other charges, and for corn sacks, &c. If he has delivered any inferior wheat they can say how much, and by what amount he has been docked. Seeing that all those particulars are available, surely the honorable member for Bendigo is not out of order in criticizing the Government for failing to provide for the keeping of a separate account for each grower who contributes to the fund. It is clear that no growers’ contribution to the fund will be the same in any two successive years, and this applies in particular to those in the less-favored areas. Those who are farming in better class country will tend to crop more or less the same acreage each year, and to deliver more or less the same quantity of wheat.
– All this has nothing to do with wheat charges.
– With great respect, I submit that it has. The amount to be levied will depend on the amount of wheat grown, on the number of acres sown, the yield per acre, and the condition in which the wheat is delivered to the pool. This bill provides for a charge to he levied on all wheat harvested after a stipulated date. It will not be possible to harvest any wheat on or after any stipulated date unless somebody prepares the land for growing it, sows it, reaps the .crop and delivers the wheat to the pool. The amount of money standing to the credit of a contributor under the scheme will vary considerably, and the variation will be much greater in the case of those in less favoured areas. A man may have a very good crop this year and a very poor one next year. Therefore, there will be a considerable variation in the amount he contributes to the fund. The request qf the honorable member for Bendigo is very reasonable, namely, that an individual account should be kept in the name of each grower. An actuarial calculation should be made in order to arrive at a. basis upon which a grower’s diminishing interest in the fund may be determined from time to time. There is no defensible reason, in equity, politics or economics, why this cannot be done. The board must keep a register. Every grower must be licensed before he can grow wheat and every farm must be registered before wheat can be grown on it. Therefore, it is not too much to ask that records of the kind I have mentioned should be kept.
The reason for men going out of wheatgrowing are many and varied. Some people say that a man should not bc allowed to go out of the industry just to suit himself, and to demand the money which he has contributed to the fund. However, sooner or later, every one must go out of wheatgrowing, if only for the reason that every one must die. A man’s successor may not want to grow wheat. He may have no interest in it, and is it, therefore, to be held that the money which the deceased person contributed to the fund shall he forfeited to the Crown. On the other hand, it may be that a grower will go out of the industry for perfectly sound reasons. It will be argued that, under a licensing system, growers should not be allowed to go out of the industry at all. As against this it can be pointed out that there is nothing to compel a man to grow wheat on land even after that land has been registered for wheat-growing. I maintain that every one who contributes to the fund should retain a personal interest in it. The purpose of the plan is to divide the money in the fund among the growers in any crop year in which the price falls below 5s. 2d. a bushel. It, may happen - indeed, it certainly will happen - that in that crop year some growers will have a very poor crop, although in previous years they had contributed substantially to the fund. I realize that there cannot be any such thing as absolute equity in the distribution of the money, but there ought to be some provision by which the individual grower will be able to reclaim at least part of his equity in the event of his going out of the industry for good reasons, or by which that equity may go to his heirs in the event of his death.
We come now to the amount which is to be deducted from the export price. This has been set down as 50 per cent, of- the difference between the export price and 5s. 2d. a bushel. I should like to know how the Government arrived at the figure of 5s. 2d. We are entitled to some explanation, and also to know why the distribution is to be on a fifty-fifty basis. Why is not the proportion 60 to 40, or 66$ to 33-J? However, no Minister has offered to explain why the Government did these things. We have a right to demand that explanation, and I hope that in due course it will be forthcoming.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Harrison) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- It is now possible to come to certain conclusions with respect to the broadcasting of proceedings in the Parliament. I bring to your notice, Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Committee, the unsatisfactory reception of such broadcasts in certain areas in northern Tasmania. The broadcasts are now relayed through the national station in Hobart, and the reception in the northern part of the State is so bad that residents in those areas tune into station 3LO on the mainland. Reception from that station is fairly satisfactory On the north-west coast of Tasmania, but it is not satisfactory in the northern portions of the State except on strong receiving sets. Therefore, I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to bring this matter before the committee at its next meeting with a view to seeing whether the broadcast of proceedings in the Parliament cannot be relayed through regional station 7NT, which was built for the special purpose of serving listeners in the northern portions of Tasmania. A large proportion of the residents of Launceston, which has a population of 40,000, is desirous of hearing the parliamentary broadcasts.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment - Department of External Affairs - P. J. Blakeney.
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, Nos. 112, 113, 114, 115, 116.
National Security Act - National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (120).
House adjourned at 3.19 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
The Parliament: Broadcasting of Proceedings ; Equipment.
n asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General,. upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers : -
n asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers : -
n asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers : -
s asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
Mr.Drakeford.- The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister represent ing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice-
y. - The Minister for Social Services has supplied the following answers : -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Australian Army: Canteen Funds.
y. - On the 17th July the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr.. Rankin) asked me to state the amount of profit on Australian Imperial Force canteens and the intentions of the Government in regard to the disbursement of this. money.
The surplus funds, which are expected to be available when the Australian Imperial Force Canteen Service is wound up, will be between £3,500,000 and £4,000,000. It is proposed that the whole of the surplus funds, as they become available, will be transferred to a trust for the benefit of members who served during the war, and their dependants. It is contemplated that provision will be made for educational assistance for children of deceased and incapacitated servicemen, and other necessitous and deserving cases. An inter-departmental committee is now working out the machinery forsetting up a trust for these purposes. In the meantime, action has been taken which will enable any cases now arising, for which immediate Assistance is required, to be provided for from moneys which have been advanced from surplus canteen funds.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Mr.Chifley-The answers, to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. So far as can be ascertained, no Commonwealth or State authority has issued such a warning.
n asked the Acting Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained and a reply’ will be furnished as soon as possible.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the right honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Charter Bates Board and the Prices Commissioner.
n asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Is it proposed by the Naval authorities to pull down half the buildings of the disused Berrima Hospital near Darwin, and to reerect it as naval huts on the civiccentre of Darwin?
n.- The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice-
n. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows-: -
SenatorDonald Grant: Visit Overseas.
asked the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
n. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 July 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1946/19460719_reps_17_187/>.