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Thursday, 18 July 1946


Mr ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) . - The Minister's amendment adds great force to the criticism of former clauses by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), because, under the amendment, the Minister, not the board, is to be the real authority. As things stood, without the amendment, the board was to have been empowered to do some extraordinary things. Now the board is to be able to do these extraordinary things subject to the direction of the Minister. Let us examine some of the extraordinary things that the Minister may order the board to do. If" amended as proposed, sub-clause 1 of clause 10 will read -

The Board may, subject to any directions of the Minister, for the purposes of the export of wheat and wheat products, the interstate marketing of wheat and the marketing of wheat territories of the Commonwealth -

Why the distinction between the export of wheat and wheat products in the one case, and the interstate marketing of wheat and the marketing of wheat in. the Territories of the Commonwealth in the other? Is it not just . as necessary to empower the board to control the ' interstate marketing of wheat and the marketing of wheat in the Territories of the Commonwealth ", as it is to give to it that authority in the export field? That matter requires clarification. Paragraph ft of sub-clause 1 contains an extraordinary statement. The board may - purchase or otherwise acquire any wheat, wheat products, corn sacks, jute or jute products.

I should like to know what the difference is between " purchase " and " acquisition ". If you purchase an article, that is one method of obtaining it. If the Government acquires it, then, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, it must pay a just price for it, and, in. addition, the acquisition must be for a Commonwealth purpose. But this bill does not suggest that the acquisition of wheat, wheat products, cornsacks, jute or jute products will be for Commonwealth purposes. Those purposes can only be to the extent that it is necessary to enable the board to perform certain functions. The matter of jute products requires serious consideration. If the board is empowered to purchase not only cornsacks but also jute and jute products, it will be able to purchase every wool bale and every sack needed for sugar, potatoes, bran or chaff. . The power is entirely disproportionate to the requirements of the board, and should not be granted. " "Wheat products ;; must include flour, bran and pollard. I ask the Minister whether the Government proposes that the Australian "Wheat Board shall be the sole authority to trade in wheat, flour, bran and pollard overseas. If the answer lie in the affirmative, why is the distinction made between overseas and interstate marketing and marketing within the Territories of the Commonwealth? I refer again to the distinction between "' purchase " and " acquire ". Does " acquire " mean that you trade in some way, work an exchange or effect a " swop " of a certain quantity of wheat for a certain number of cornsacks? Does it mean that, in order to acquire certain cornsacks for the use of the wheat trade, the board may offer thousands of bushels of Australian wheat in Calcutta?

Paragraph c of sub-clause 1 provides that the board may - grist or arrange for the gristing of any wheat and sell or otherwise dispose of the products of the gristing;

I should like to know whether this power means that the board shall have authority to acquire by purchase, lease, rent, or some other means, flour-mills for the the gristing of wheat. Paragraph d provides that the board may - manage and control all matters connected with the handling, storage, protection, treatment, transfer or shipment of any wheat or wheat products purchased or acquired by the board or of any wheat or wheat products sold or disposed of by the Board.

Finally, paragraph e states that the board may - do all matters which it is required by this Act to do or which are necessary or convenient to be done by the Board for giving effect to this Act.

These matters, which are of considerable importance, require explanation before we agree to the clause in its present form.


Mr Rosevear - Does not the honorable member understand the distinction between " purchase " and " acquire " ?


Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - I do not know the reason for the use of the two words when only one is intended.


Mr Rosevear - If you acquire something, you obtain it at a just price. If you purchase it you might be robbed.


Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - I direct the attention of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) to the clause which provides that the farmers shall contribute to the stabilization fund, when prices are high, not more than 50 per cent, of the amount by which the export price exceeds the guaranteed minimum price. If you acquire wheat on just terms you must give to the grower the full realization price of his product.


Mr Rosevear - Does the honorable member realize that this clause is almost' exactly the same as the provision- contained in the present National Security Regulations? '


Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - The honorable member for Dalley does not offer a satisfactory explanation when he says that the clause is almost the same as the provision in the National Security Regulations. I have examined those regulations one by one. I remind the honorable member that the National Security Regulations were framed for the purposes of war, and those purposes should not be continued in peace-time: Since the honorable member has raised this matter, I point out that the National Security Regulations are promulgated under the National Security Act. When that act expires the National Security Regulations will automatically cease to operate. It is a 'very slipshod method of drafting legislation to insert in a bill a provision that certain National Security Regulations, without stipulating what they are, shall be the law of the land. I am sure that the very acute and astute mind of the honorable member for Dalley must have noticed the difference between the two methods employed. Clause 11 simply states that the National Security (Wheat Acquisition) Regulations in force to-day shall be the law of the land, but clause 10 follows a different procedure. As the honorable member for Dalley showed, the Government has made certain distinctions and alterations. I should like to know, for my own information, what explanation the Minister can offer.







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