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Wednesday, 25 February 1987
Page: 572


Senator MACKLIN(10.31) —The argument has just been demonstrated by Senator Watson, one of the proponents and inventors of the free lunch for farmers. Senator Watson has described the assertions about which the Minister for Finance (Senator Walsh) spoke previously and to which Senator Mason has already referred, about the criterion being the return to farmers instead of the nutritional value of food, as scaremongering. He has decided that the nutritional value of a product is not important and that the criterion should be whether there is a dollar in it, not whether it is useful. We already have growing evidence of malnutrition in this country, but according to Senator Watson that is not important; that is scare tactics. We must not concentrate on that in this place; all we must concentrate on is whether there is a dollar in it. That is his type of argument. All the other things are of no concern whatsoever to parliamentarians. Senator Watson, one of the proponents and inventors of the free lunch for farmers, says that there will be extra profits for the seed companies-but no one will pay for them-and that is why he and his colleagues want to hurry this legislation through. Some of his friends in the multinational companies, some of the people who fund him and his Party, and now the Labor Party, want to hurry it through because they want profits. Fine, they will get profits, but the profits will not come from anywhere. Nobody will pay for them. The consumers will not pay and the farmers will not pay. Anybody who believes in the type of voodoo economics that Senator Watson propounds can be happy with that argument.


Senator Mason —Snake oil.


Senator MACKLIN —Yes, snake oil. One of the new proponents of snake oil has just arrived in the chamber. There is not such a thing as a free lunch. If there are new profits to be made in this area they will be paid for by somebody, and they will be paid for first of all by farmers. It is about time somebody realised that. Farmers will be the first to pay, and they will pay through the nose. Farmers in this country cannot take one more add-on cost. They are ground down already. They cannot take an increase in the cost of seed. What will happen? The cost will be immediately passed on to the consumer. I say to Senator Watson that there is no such thing as a free lunch. His people in the multinationals will be happy to make profits, but the profits will come out of the pockets of farmers and out of the pockets of consumers.