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Friday, 20 July 1917

Mr FALKINER (Hume) .- In my opinion, the Bill has nothing to do with bulk handling, but merely proposes to spend £2,850,000 in providing storage, according to the Prime Minister, for onethird of the crop. The question to my mind is whether that provision is adequate; personally I think that it is not sufficient to provide for only one-third of the crop. Even if we do not go on with a scheme of bulk handling, I hope the Prime Minister will take into consideration, when he next confers with the State Premiers, the question whether, subject as we are to droughts, we should not always keep at least one-half of the season's crop in store. If that were done the silos would be a benefit for all time. I should like ito see the Commonwealth retain the whole control of the proposed expenditure. We provide the money, and I trust that it will not be given to the States to fritter away, only to have them coming to us for more. We should undertake the building of these silos.

Mr West - They will cost more than the Government estimate.

Mr FALKINER - I have no doubt they would, under the conditions which honorable members opposite favour, namely, day labour under a Government official, who may be useless, and whom we cannot "sack." Private enterprise "boodleiers" we can deal with, but the " boodleier " in the Government Service i3 like the brook - he goes on for ever.

An interesting fact brought out by the honorable member for Cook is that the farmer is expected tlo grow his wheat under artificial conditions in regard to rates of wages, and the honorable member proposes that the price be fixed for the wheat in Australia, the farmer having to sell two-thirds of his produce in markets unaffected by a fixed price for labour. If the wheat is pooled and the Government sell it, there ought, in my opinion, to be no charge to the farmer, who in this country carries on his occupation under greater disabilities than I think are . met anywhere else in the world. I refer to the rates of wages, the hours of labour, and the uncertainty of the labour itself. I do not care to vote against the Bill; I shall support it; but, as I said, I regard it as inadequate to cope with the situation.

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