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Thursday, 19 November 1936

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) . - I move -

That after the word " exercise ", proposed new section 92a, the words " at the request of States concerned in the disposal of products overseas " be inserted.

If the amendment be carried the clause will then read -

The provisions of the last preceding section shallnot apply to laws with respect to marketing made by or under the authority of the Parliament in the exercise, at the request of States concerned in the disposal of products overseas, of any powers vested in the Parliament by this Constitution.

In pressing for the acceptance of the amendment, it will be necessary for me to make my intention clear.

Senator Sir George Pearce - Especially to the court.

Senator PAYNE - To the committee. I shall outline what has been done in the past by the Commonwealth to aid industries, and also show that the Commonwealth is seeking powers in excess of those which it exercised prior to the recent decision of the Privy Council.

Senator Sir George Pearce - The powers of the Commonwealth were not limited to any particular industry.

Senator PAYNE - I did not suggest that they were. I am merely referring to the fact that the powers which the Commonwealth thought it possessed were exercised to assist only those industries producing commodities in excess of the local consumption, thus necessitating the surplus being exported overseas and sold at world's parity. In many instances world's parity was lower than the cost of production, which necessitated the fixing of quotas and of prices somewhat higher than would have otherwise been charged in order to counteract the loss incurred on overseas sale.*. I appreciate to the full the assistance given to certain industries; without it they could not have carried on. Other industries may require similar help later, and if my amendment be adopted, they will not be prevented from receiving governmental assistance.

Senator Arkins - Why does not the honorable senator support his reasoning by his vote?

Senator PAYNE - I have not yet recorded my vote; I hope to secure the honorable senator's support for my amendment. This proposal should be couched in language 'which the people can understand, and if my amendment be adopted the fact will be clear that it will apply only to those industries now compelled to market their surplus products overseas. The word " marketing ", as it stands, is indefinite and crude, and I feel that it will be difficult to convince the people that if the Government's proposal be adopted this or some future government may not exercise the power in a way that was never intended. Surely it would be of assist ance to the Government and to the industries likely to benefit if the proposed alteration' of the Constitution were amended in such a way that the people would be satisfied that some limitation was placed upon the powers which the Commonwealth could exercise. Many thousands of electors will seek an assurance that the proposed referendum will not increase the powers of the Commonwealth beyond those which it exercised before the Privy Council's decision. I endeavoured to make this point clear during my second-reading speech ; unfortunately, my remarks have been accidentally misconstrued in certain sections of the press. Newspapers have suggested that my object in moving the amendment is to limit any assistance which may 'be given by the Government to the sale abroad of our surplus primary products. It is nothing of the kind ! Tip to date, no industry, which has not made a request. te the Government in this connexion, has been subject to marketing control. The object of the marketing scheme was to ensure the survival of the industries concerned by giving to the producers a higher price for the proportion of the butter and dried fruits consumed in Australia in order to compensate for. the lower price obtained for the surplus sold overseas.

Senator ARKINS - Does not the honorable gentleman consider that every State is concerned, for instance, in the marketing of butter?

Senator PAYNE - I do.

Senator Arkins - Then the approval of all the States would have to be obtained under the honorable senator's amendment in order to allow marketing legislation to be put into operation.

Senator PAYNE - All States would get the assistance.

Senator Arkins - But every State would have to agree to the marketing proposals before they could function.

Senator PAYNE - The first approach must be made by the States. They must pass legislation, and later the Commonwealth will enact complementary legislation. The two in conjunction will provide the necessary machinery to enable primary produce to be marketed at a satisfactory price.

Senator Arkins - It means that at all times all the States would have to agree, because all of them are concerned in the export of primary produce overseas.

Senator Badman - All of them are not concerned in dried fruits.

Senator Arkins - But they are concerned in the price.

Senator PAYNE - I ask honorable senators to concentrate on considering whether my amendment, if carried, will improve the prospects of the success of the referendum. I am anxious that this Parliament should be given such powers as arc necessary to enable it to continue to legislate in connexion with the marketing of primary produce to the same extent as it did before the decision of the Privy Council. I should be the last person to take any action which might jeopardize that objective; but I earnestly believe that my amendment will assist in obtaining an affirmative vote at the referendum.

SenatorSir George Pearce. - More than one State is concerned in the export of primary products. Have they all to make the request to the Commonwealth to legislate ?

Senator PAYNE - They have had to do so in the past; otherwise, this Parliament would not have been empowered to initiate the complementary marketing legislation.

Senator Sir George Pearce - Under the honorable senator's amendment, if four States desired the legislation, but one State disagreed, a marketing scheme could not be introduced.

Senator PAYNE - How does this apply to action taken in this respect by the Government in the past ?

Senator Sir George Pearce - We did act without receiving a request from all the States. The honorable senator now endeavours by his amendment to compel us to await the receipt of requests from all States before legislating.

Senator PAYNE - If that is the only objection, I invite the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) to draw up an amendment which will effect my purpose and yet satisfy the Government. I ask the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan) whether he can point out how in any way my amendment would jeopardize the benefits that hitherto have accrued to primary producing industries under the marketing legislation.

Senator Sir George Pearce - It would make the legislation abortive, because the disapproval of one State could block it.

Senator Hardy - As the Commonwealth cannot do anything without supplementary State legislation, what is the use of inserting the amendment proposed by the honorable senator?

Senator PAYNE - Commonwealth legislation must be complementary to State legislation. The Commonwealth does not take the initiative; the first step must be taken by the States concerned. We are asked to pass legislation complementary to their legislation in order to enable market schemes to function effectively.

Senator Hardy - Did a State take the initiative in regard to the wheat legislation?

Senator PAYNE - In submitting this amendment, I ask the Government in all earnestness to accept it, or failing that, to substitute a suitable alternative in order to allay my anxiety in regard to the prospects of securing an affirmative vote at the referendum.

Senator Sir George Pearce - What is the meaning of the words " States concerned " ?

Senator PAYNE - I should say that every State that has an industry which has to export a large proportion of its production at world's parity, which, in many instances is much lower than the cost of production, is naturally concerned in the marketing control of that industry.

Senator Sir George Pearce - Is not a consuming State also concerned?

Senator PAYNE - Not in the export of a portion of the production of other States.

Senator Sir George Pearce - Yes, if the export makes the price higher for the local consumers.

Senator PAYNE - Apparently the Leader of the Senate is prepared to raise objection to any amendment which is moved to this bill. I hope that the right honorable gentleman will accept my assurance that I am actuated only by a desire to help the Government carry its proposal. I should like him to explain how my amendment would jeopardize the success of the referendum.

Senator Sir George Pearce - We think that it would sandbag it altogether.

Senator PAYNE - Does the Minister desire that, through the referendum, more power should be given to the Government in respect of marketing than it exercised before the decision of the Privy Council?

Senator Sir George Pearce - We had more power then than this amendment will give to us.

Senator PAYNE - Has the Government at any time endeavoured to legislate for the marketing of the product of any industry which has not to export a large proportion of its production?

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