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Tuesday, 9 April 1946

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member must deal with the clause, and the amendment that is now before the Chair.

Mr McEWEN - I am dealing with the amendment. So as to overcome the point that was made from this corner of the chamber, which could not be overcome by argument, because it cannot be refuted, the attempt is to be made to define " primary products ", by providing that the expression shall be deemed to include flour and other wheat products, butter, cheese, and other milk products, dried fruit and other fruit products, and sugar.

Dr Evatt - Without limiting the generality of the first expression: '

Mr McEWEN - I do not know what may be the effect of saying "without limiting the generality . < of. the- first expression ". .

Dr Evatt - It means that we can pass the stage of milk and deal with milk products, that we can pass the stage of dried fruits and deal with canned fruits,, as well as, probably, wine, which is a fruit product, and that we can pass the stage- of wheat and deal with other wheat products such as bran and pollard.

Mr McEWEN - I thank the AttorneyGeneral for his explanation. But I fear that it really serves no more than to reinforce my argument and my apprehension. Had he said that the correct interpretation of the clause is that it does not limit the generality of primary products, taken in the broad sense, but includes these other products, I should have replied that the additional commodities were being' cited as examples, if in a statute use can be made of examples sopresented. But the explanation makes it clear to me that this is the total number of commodities that is to be recognized as primary products, having passed beyond their first stage of wheat, milk or fruit. Why should provision be . made in respect of fruit and not of vegetables, why in respect of- butter and not margarine? The butter industry cannot be stabilized unless margarine be controlled.

Dr Evatt - Which of the phrases in the amendment of the right honorable member for Cowper covers margarine? I do not think it is an agricultural, pastoral, horticultural, viticultural, or dairying product.

Mr McEWEN - I am not confining myself to the amendment, nor am I obliged to do so. I am pointing out that neither the clause nor the amendment which, the Attorney-General- intends to submit goes any distance towards putting the proposal in a safe, legal form. For the benefit of honorable members who are not engaged in primary production, I shall mention a few commodities that are not covered. Take, for example, broom millet.

Mr Lemmon - That is a primary product.

Mr McEWEN - Is it a primary pro- duct when it is a broom? Are the producers not to have the opportunity to sell it in an advanced form ? Tobacco has to be processed-. Meat is one of the greatest primary products in Australia, but a great deal of it is sold in processed form

Why is it left untouched 3 We deal with wheat, but not with maize. There is maize flour in the form of maize starch and maizena; it is analagous to wheat flour. An organized marketing scheme controlled by the growers, in respect of potatoes, I remind the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard), may involve the production of potato flour, and of power alcohol. There cannot be producer control of organized marketing in a form that will be worth anything -to the producers, .unless it is possible for them to go past the first stage. One of the greatest crops in the world to-day is that of the soya bean. We know of the multitude of forms in which the soya bean emerges after the initial process. No provision is being made for the handling- of that product; yet the Government is sending men to America at great expense to investigate the possibility of introducing its production on a big scale in Australia. Then there is the humble peanut, which our friend. from _ Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) handles. As chairman of the Queensland Peanut Board, he is obliged to handle the peanut not only in its raw form but also when it is roasted and salted, and when it takes the form of peanut oil and peanut butter. The scope for the expansion of the poultry industry in this country is prodigious. In America, the organized poultry industry is six times, as big as the Australian wool industry ; yet under this proposal there could not be organized control of the marketing of poultry. That applies also to fish and timber. It is absolutely impossible to deal adequately with this matter by stipulating a category of products. They could be stipulated in legislation, because legislation could be amended- without very great difficulty or intolerable delay. There might be the most comprehensive list of commodities, and it might later be found that fish had not been' included. A referendum could not be held to make provision for it. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) reminds me of pearlshell and pearls. Had the AttorneyGeneral adhered to his original view that " primary products " is a description capable of interpretation, my opinion would not be worth anything against his, mine being merely that of a layman. But- he has confessed that it is not capable of adequate and practical interpretation, and in a last-minute amendment is seeking to correct the position by including flour, butter, dried fruit and sugar. The issue now requires legal clarification. I am not capable of contributing to that. But I can recognize that if this proposal is passed in an ineffective form, it will not serve the. purpose that is sought to be served on behalf of the primary producers. It will certainly create a paradise for lawyers.

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