Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 29 October 1931

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL (Warringah) . - This bill is one of a series designed to render some assistance to the wheat-farmers. The other bills contained contentious provisions, and were, in consequence, unacceptable to some of the interests concerned. Now a bill has been introduced which i3 apparently _ acceptable to every one who wishes to help the farmers. The reason, of course, is that it is proposed to help the farmers by increasing the national debt by £3,000,000. Everyone is satisfied, because it is intended to let posterity foot the bill. We are, to use an expressive phrase, passing the buck.

Mr Theodore -The Government will have to find the money five years hence.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL - God help the country if this Government has to find any ready money! It has been suggested by all those who have spoken in favour of the bill that it represents a fine piece of statesmanship.. Although no section of the community is called upon to find this money immediately, yet the people as a whole will have to pay it eventually, and in the meantime the interest on the money will be added to the already crushing burden of interest payments. I cannot understand, therefore, why the House should so readily agree to the proposal, knowing that it means adding still further to a burden which is even now proving difficult enough for us to carry. When measures come before this House which are likely to serve the political interests of honorable members, many of them are only too ready to give them their support, even though they are inherently unsound from an economic point of view.

I wish to state clearly that I am not opposed to assisting the farmers. I realize that no other class has suffered more from tariff impositions, and from the restrictive and repressive legislation sponsored by this Government. There is probably no other class in- the community which is more entitled to assistance, because, in the last analysis, it is upon their efforts that the financial stability of the country depends. The more they are able to produce, the more new money is brought into the country, and the better it is for every one. Only by the efforts of those engaged in the wool, wheat, metal and other primary industries can the finances of the country be rehabilitated. I am not unsympathetic to the' farmers receiving assistance, and I am prepared to do anything in reason to help them. It is very easy to join in the popular cry that something must be done for the farmers, but it is not so easy to determine upon the right way of doing it.

Mr Frost - The honorable member yelled with the rest in denouncing the effects of the tariff on the primary producers.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL - I did, and in that I was consistent, because I believe that the tariff is at the root of many of the ills from which the farmers are suffering. I endeavoured to have the duties reduced on those things which the farmers use, believing that thereby we could reduce- costs of production. That is the only sound method of assisting the farmers.

Mr Gregory - Only in that way can the farmers 'be enabled to export profitably.


Mr Eldridge - Does the honorable member think that the cost of production regulates the price which the farmer receives for his wheat?

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL - I think that the cost of production has a very important bearing upon the farmer's profits. I have made it clear that I am in favour of assisting the farmers, and I now propose to examine this scheme to see whether it is economically sound. The bill which immediately preceded this provided that a bounty on wheat should be paid at such a rate as to bring the price up to 3s. per bushel. If the price of wheat was 2s. 6d., a bounty of 6d. per bushel was to be paid; but if the price was 2s. 10d., the bounty would be only 2d. per bushel. The present proposal is to make a straight-out gift to the farmers of iii. per bushel, irrespective of the price of wheat. The price may go to 4s. or 5s. per bushel, but the farmer will still receive 4½d. per bushel more by way of bounty. I have heard it suggested that it is only fair to do this because the farmers suffered losses during previous years. We are not now, however, dealing with the losses previously incurred.

Mr Hill - Does the honorable member suggest that the farmers can make a living out of growing wheat, and selling it at 3s. per bushel f.o.b. ?

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL - I do not suggest that ; I am merely comparing the Government's previous proposals with the measure now before us. I presume the honorable member will admit that if the price of wheat rose to 5s. per bushel the farmers would be able to produce at a profit; yet, under this proposal, even though wheat rose to that price, the bounty of 4r£d. per bushel would still be paid.

Every other scheme which has been put before this House has contained some provision for getting back the money which was to be paid out in bounties, and that is only right. In the present scheme, however, all such provisions have been omitted, because it is feared that, if put into operation, they might tend to increase the price of bread to the teeming millions in the cities. Therefore, the Government has rejected the proposal to impose a sales tax on flour, and intends to add to the national debt the £3,000,000 which is to be paid away as a bounty. I wonder what attitude the Country party would take up if the Government brought in a proposal next week to add £3,000,000 to the national debt in order to relieve unemployment, the money to be disposed of in the same way as is the £3,000,000 for the assistance of the wheat-farmers.

Mr Thompson - It would be impossible to hand out money to the unemployed on the same basis as this. £3,000,000 will be advanced to the wheatfarmers.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL - I am sure I could devise means of doing it. Under the Government's proposal it is a matter of " to him who hath shall be given ". The man who produces the most wheat will get the most byway of bounty, while the man who produces least, because he is hard up or because the season is bad, will receive least. The farmer who had a bad season last year may not have had the money to buy seed wheat, to purchase machinery, and to pay labour. Therefore, he may have little or no wheat to sell this year, and will receive little, if any, assistance through this scheme. On the other hand, the man who was favoured by a good season last year, or happened to be in. a suitable part of the country, so that he produced a good crop, will get the biggest cut out of the £3,000,000. Surely the man who follows the plough day in and day out, but who, through no fault of his own, gets no crop, is more entitled to assistance than the man who in some cases merely lends bis money at interest.

Mr Thompson - The big growers last year lost more than the small ones.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL - That I deny. During the course of the debate I asked, by interjection, whether the Queensland farmers were to share in the scheme. That was not a hostile interjection. If, in Queensland, they choose., by State legislation, to increase the amount the farmers receive for their wheat, that is their business, and I am well content.While I am willing at all times to assist the farmers, who are deserving of all the helpwe can give them, and while I believe that the primary industries are of the utmost importance to the country, I cannot refrain from saying that the method of assistance proposed in this bill is inherently and economically unsound.

Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.

Suggest corrections