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Wednesday, 18 August 1920

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon J M Chanter - Order! The matter which the honorable member is now discussing has nothing 'whatever to do with the Bill-

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The members of the Country party, who should be working in the interests of the producers, are now allowing themselves to be led by the Government, which brings in an agreement supposed to be in the interests of the primary producers. And yet those who drew up the agreement include four middlemen whom the honorable members in the corner are sup>posed to have been 6ent here to fight. The Labour party is opposed to the middleman as the enemy of the primary producer, and if there were nothing else in the agreement to which I objected, the fact that the Committee which drew it up included four of the natural enemies of the producer would be sufficent te turn me against it. Ever since I came into the House I have objected to the manner in which the producers were cheated in connexion w th the sales off wool and wheat. The wool sale was really not a written contract, but was an arrangement agreed to over the cables, and by means of it the wool-growers suffered! an irreparable lo3S. There is no representative of the farming community who will approve of the manner in which the wool contract was made and carried out The same objection is to be found to the sale of wheat. Right throughout the war period there was blundering unprecedented in the history of this country, an¬ęS as the result the primary producers suffered more than any other section of the community. Now, when the war is over. we are asked 'to sanction a similar transaction. Again the producers will be the victims of a bad deal, and the trouble is that those who claim to speak for the primary producers are " in the swim."

Mr Bell - They are doing their own business this time.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - 1 do not admit that the bulk of the men engaged in the dairying industry had anything to do with the making of this agreement. Certain representatives of co-operative societies and middlemen drew up the agreement, but it cannot be said that any vote of those engaged in the dairying industry was taken to indicate their approval of the scheme, We might almost say that the agreement was made behind the backs of the producers.

Mr RODGERS (WANNON, VICTORIA) - Will the honorable member say that there is a shrewder man in the dairying industry than Mr. Osborne, who was a member of the Committee ?

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do know that the dairymen were represented on the Committee only to a small extent; but there were other men on it who cannot be said to be representatives of the people who earn their living as dairy farmers. Although the nutter will be sold in Great Britain under this agreement, it will pass through the ordinary channels, and will be handled by the merchants of Tooley -street.

Mr RODGERS (WANNON, VICTORIA) - The ordinary channels of distribution have been used in connexion with all the Pools.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Exactly. And the butter which will be sold to Great Britain at 240s. per cwt., plus charges,, may be sold in Germany, or some other country at double that figure. That will mean a loss to the primary producer. The same thing happened in connexion with the sales of wheat and wool. When the Australian farmer was receiving 3s. 9d. to 4s. 2d. per bushel the Canadian and Argentine farmers were receiving 9s. to 13s. per bushel, and whilst the Australian wool -grower was receiving 15½d. per lb. for his wool, the growers in other countries were receiving as much as 5s. per lb. more. We are told that the Australian wool producer should be satisfied, because he is to receive 50 per cent, of any profit made on re-sales at prices over and above the fixed rate. There is no small wool-grower in Australia who is not in direct disagreement with that contract. The primary producers have a right to expect that, the war being over, we shall return to normal conditions. They were the greatest sufferers during the war period, but we are asked to perpetuate their hardships.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - What hardships?

Dr EARLE PAGE (COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Getting a bigger price for their butter than they received before.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - There are many honorable members on the Government side who will agree with me that this agreement may prove a very great hardship to the dairy farmers: The price is being fixed until March of next year, and no one can deny that it is possible, and, indeed, highly probable, that the fixed price will be much below the world's parity before the agreement terminates.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - Does not the honorable member think that the people representing the primary producers know their own business as well as he does? That is the whole point of the Bill. ,

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is not the point of the Bill. I am not satisfied that the majority of the men engaged in the dairying industry know very much about the agreement which the Minister will not let us see.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - The honorable member knows that behind all this talk is the desire to stop export in order to keep down the local price.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Treasurer cannot put into my mouth any words he chooses. I received the votes of a large number of primary producers, and I shall do my best to see that they, get the best treatment possible. I am not tied, like members of the so-called Country party, to the actions of the Government. When the Government do something which I think inimical to the interests of the primary producers, I hold myself free to criticise their actions. I ask leave to continue my remarks at the next sitting.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

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