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Tuesday, 5 December 1905
Page: 6243

Mr CHANTER (Riverina) - I intend to support the proposed new clause. I agree with the honorable member for Bland and others who have spoken that it is not practicable to apply the union label to the products of the primary industries referred to. I support the clause, however, for another reason, and that is because there has been so much misrepresentation as- to the effect of the union label provisions. From one end of the Commonwealth to the other, farmers especially have been invited to believe that under these provisions, when their bags of wheat and boxes of butter reach Melbourne, Williamstown, or Sydney, they will not be shipped unless they bear a union label. If we remove these industries from the operation of the Bill, it will show that although many members of the Committee have been charged in the press with voting against the interests of the farmers and primary producers, there are persons inside this House prepared to safeguard their interests as well as persons outside.

Mr. LONSDALE(New England).- It is rather amusing to me to witness the new development. The honorable member for Riverina has told the Committee that because the farmer has been informed that if the union label is not put on his bag of wheat or box of butter, it will not be shipped by union men, he is prepared to vote for the proposed new clause, to show that that statement is not true.

Mr McCay - To prevent it being true.

Mr LONSDALE - But the honorable member is proposing to vote to remove those industries from the operation of the Bill. This is most extraordinary logic, because if the statement made is not true, there is no reason why this clause should1 be agreed to. The honorable member for Riverina represents a farming constituency, and this is the kind of legislation we have here, where men vote for classes. If the union label is a good thing, let it be applied all round. I do not propose to vote that it should, because I object to it altogether. I am prepared to remove one industry from its operation, if I cannot remove all. But if honorable members think that it is a good thing, they should see that it is applied all round. We have been told that the object of the union label is to enable the retailer to raise the price of h;s goods. The great object of it is to benefit the retailer. That is an extraordinary way to put the position. This is n generous and kind piece of legislation ! We have been told that the mark cannot be placed on things sold wholesale : that it is intended for things sold retail. Is that why it is not to be placed on butter? Do housewives buy butter bv the box? If the workers' trade mark is a good thing, why should it not be placed on every pat of butter? Honorable members are changing their position, because they wish to stand well with the farmers who are their constituents. The honorable member for Echuca is perfectly logical, because he is altogether opposed to the provisions of Part VII. of the Bill, and as he cannot get rid of them altogether, is trying to circumscribe their scope. But many honorable members sitting on the other side of the Chamber will vote for the amendment, because they know what the feeling of their constituents is. They know that the farmers do not wish to come under these provisions.

Mr Tudor - All my constituents will come under them.

Mr LONSDALE - The honorable member., no doubt, thinks himself very courageous j but all his constituents are unionists, or in sympathy with' legislation of this kind. However, I rose merely to point out the hypocrisy of those who, while supporting the proposal of the Government, are willing to vote for the amendment. I shall vote for it, because I am altogether opposed to the provisions of Part VII., and, as I cannot defeat them, shall do what I can to 1-imid their effect.

Mr. KNOX(Kooyong). - I shall support the amendment. The speech of the honorable member for New England reveals the insincerity of the objects and purposes of Part VII. Surely the community will be astonished to find that honorable members who have hitherto supported the proposals of the Government are willing to vote for this amendment, preventing the application of those provisions to primary industries. However, I am glad that the Minister has accepted the amendment. The Government are finding that, after all, they must rely on the support of honorable members on this side of the Chamber.

Mr. JOSEPHCOOK (Parramatta).I shall support the amendment, and congratulate the honorable member for Echuca on having brought the Attorney-General to reason with regard to at least a section of the community. Honorable members opposite will no longer be able to say that this is not class legislation, inasmuch as we have now a specific proposal for the exclusion of certain classes from its operation.

Mr Watson - I, for one, object to the amendment.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member must do so if he wishes to be consistent. But what of the consistency of the Attorney-General? Adamant to the last degree concerning any other place, he is soft as putty when the electorate of Indi is in question.

Mr Hutchison - -How can the honorable member expect the Attorney-General' to offer him anything in the future?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is this being offered as a concession to the Opposition? The Attorney-General was climbing down before the honorable member for Echuca had well pointed his gun. He had prepared a ladder by which to descend before the honorable member had moved his amendment. What is the reason for this change of front? The only reason that I can find is that the Attorney-General represents a large number of agriculturalists and primary producers. He has said that this is only a concession to what fie believes to be popular prejudice and" ignorance regarding the scope and intention of the measure.

Mr Isaacs - As usual, the honorable member's imagination is running away with him. I did not say a word to that effect.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I shall be glad to hear the Attorney-General defend his position. I wish to know why he is ready to exempt some persons from the operation of the Bill, while compelling others to submit to it. My position is that of the honorable member for Echuca. If I cannot get all I want - if I cannot get rid of the provisions of Part VII - I shall be glad to exempt from their operation the primary producers of the community. The fact that this special exemption is being accepted is the clearest indication that there is some foundation for the statements which have been made throughout Australia, that the Bill, if passed in its original form, would endanger the interests of our primary producers.

Proposed new clause, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment (by Mr. McColl) agreed to-

That the following new clause be inserted : - 75A. This Part shall not apply to any primary products of the agricultural, viticultural (including wine-making), horticultural, dairying (including butter-making and cheese-making), or pastoral industries.

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