Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 19 August 1920

Mr GABB (Angas) .- I had some doubt as to the attitude I should adopt in regard to this Bill, but some remarks which have been made this afternoon have decided me as to my duty in the interests of the primary producers - not the men who own the butter factories, but those who do the actual hard work of dairy farming. One thing which has influenced me in coming to a decision is the remark made by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), to the effect that Mr. Sandford, of Adelaide, was quite in favour of this agreement.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - I said that it was to the interest of Mr. Sandford and those associated with him to get the biggest price possible for butter.

Mr GABB - The Minister said that Mr. Sandford .was in favour of this scheme.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - Pardon me, -I said nothing of the sort, and the honorable member must accept my denial.

Mr GABB - I can believe my own ears. Then the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) quoted Mr. Sandford as the representative of many of the primary producers of South Australia. A3 a South Australian I do not believe that 5 per cent, of the primary producers of that State will agree that Sandford and Company have proved themselves the friends of the farmers.

Writers on poultry, whilst not daring to mention the name of the firm, make it clear that the firm of Sandford and Company has held the egg market in its grip for many years to the detriment of the poultry raisers. While the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) was speaking the honorable men/bar for Indi (Mr. Robert Cook) continually asked him whether he did not know that Mr. Sandford owned a butter factory. It is true that he owns one of the biggest factories in South Australia, and also that he manufactures one of the best brands of butter made in that State, but that does not constitute him a friend of the primary producer. Even members of the Country party will not contend" that agents for the sale of necessary machinery for the manufacture of butter are as a rule friends of the primary producer. Mr. Sandford is the only man mentioned in the list which has been referred to of whom I know anything, and I am absolutely positive that he cannot be regarded as a fair representative of the man who looks after the cows m the State I come from. If I had found on the list the names of men whom I could mention settled on the Murray reclaimed swamps at Eudunda, Kapunda, Woodside, and the outlying districts around Two Wells, Mallala, Gawler, and such places, I should have some faith in the agreement as representing the views of the primary producers, but, to tell me that Mr. Sandford is satisfied with the agreement is sufficient to warrant me in refusing to support it. I have been concerned in my mind about the matter, because outside the south-eastern district of South Australia, the electorate I represent, is one Of the principal butter producing districts in that State. Honorable members have spoken of the long hours worked by those engaged in the dairying industry. I know all about that. There are no men in the country more deserving of help and encouragement than are the market gardeners and dairymen. No men do more work for the return they get, and we should do all that we possibly can for them. I am anxious that we should do the best that can be done for the dairymen of Australia. The object of the amendment is to insure to the primary producers of Australia that their products sold overseas shall be sold at the world's parity. I agree with that, and I believe that honorable members of the Country party also agree with it. I do not accuse members of that party of being in favour of the middleman. They have far too much sense. But I do accuse Ministerial members of representing the middleman's party, because their election campaigns are financed by middlemen. Members of the Country party know that while the middleman is not a friend of the farmer, ha cannot well be a friend of theirs. In the circumstances, I am at. a loss to understand why they should object to the amendment. If they have some better proposal by which greater protection might be given to the interests of the dairy farmers, they should submit it.

We have to consider whether there is any probability that the price of butter in the outside world will rise. I believe that the present price on the London market of Danish butter is 330s. per cwt. I have- recently been supplied with extracts from letters coming from Germany. They were given to me to assist me m making representations to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), from whom the people who supplied me with the information are trying to obtain some relief. Those quotations show that the price of butter in Germany to-day is tremendous, and so is the price of lard. Honorable members are aware that at the present time trading with Germany is not allowed. Still, the Government have been human© enough to allow people in Australia to send 11-lbs. parcels to friends in Germany who may be in need, and there are very many of them so placed. In this way parcels of condensed milk have been sent to Germany, and so great there is the need for milk for children, that although these parcels have been sent to private persons, the German Government have taken possession of them, and do not permit adults in Germany to use the condensed milk. I mention that to show the great shortage of dairy products which there must be in Germany. What is true of Germany in this respect is true of other parts of Europe. If this be the position in Germany, it seems to me that so far from the price of butter being likely to go down, it is much more likely to increase. Believing this, I wish as far as possible to protect the interests of the primary producers of the article here.

Mr Stewart - The honorable member speaks as if the Government made this deal, whereas the primary . producers themselves made it.

Mr GABB - I thank the honorable member for his interjection. A statement was made by him to the effect thatfour middlemen at the conference were opposed to the agreement. Then we had the statement which I have attributed to the Minister for Trade and Customs, but the statements do not agree. Of the thirteen names mentioned there is only one I know anything about, and I have said that that is the name of a firm that is not representative of the primary producers. I am in the circumstances placed in such a position that I am inclined to question the contention that the agreement represents the views of the genuine primary producers. I have tried to assure myself on the point, and if I could have been absolutely certain that the Bill represents a legitimate request of the genuine primary producers, I should have been inclined to go with the honorable members of the Country party all the way.

Mr Stewart - We all honestly believe that.

Mr GABB - Just as I am willing to stand by the decision of a majority of unionists as to the price at which they will sell their labour, so, if I were absolutely assured that honorable members supporting the agreement really represent the views of the primary producers, I should feel bound to stand behind their request.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - The honorable member knows that in no circumstances could he be persuaded to support a Government proposal.

Mr GABB - I am not going to permit the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) to tell me what I know.

Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.

Mr GABB - We should encourage the dairying industry because of its importance to the nation. If we stand by the amendment, which provides that the primary producer should obtain the world's parity for his exportable surplus, we shall do much to encourage the extension of the industry. I have here a statement by Mr. A. H. Renard, author of ABC of Scientific Feeding, &c, which, since it deals with the importance of the industry to the nation, I desire to place on record -

It cannot be too often, or too strongly, emphasized that the stability of the dairying in dustry is of absolutely paramount importance to the progress and prosperity of the Commonwealth. It is the greatest money-maker and distributer of ready money among primary industries. Its expansion on permanently successful lines is, without any exaggeration, a matter of national life or stagnation. Dairying is the master-key of all Australian industries, because, in the special circumstances, an abundantly large production of milk, enabling a large consumption at a moderate price, is the controlling influence on the physical and mental health, vigour and development of the Australian nation. -Furthermore, this great industry holds the solution of the burning problem of the reduction in cost of living, because it produces milk, butter, and cheese, and powerfully assists in the economical production of beef and pork and bacon . Finally, this single industry, being susceptible of immense expansion and intensive development, on safe and profitable lines, is fully capable of solving the vexed questions of the increase in population, closer settlement on the land, drift of rural population to the cities, and a huge export trade.

I indorse all these statements, with the exception of that in which the writer speaks of the dairying industry as being the greatest of money-makers. My observation of those engaged in the dairying industry leads me to believe that, having regard to the labour they put into it, they do not receive the returns which can be secured in many other avenues of employment.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - It is the hardest job in the world.

Mr GABB - For once, the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) and I are in agreement - dairying is one of the hardest of jobs.

Another reason why I desire that the primary producer shall obtain the world's parity for his exportable surplus is that in that event the home consumer could also be protected. Earlier in the debate, the Treasurer tried to make it appear that our party wished to " have it coming and going" - that we desired that the primary producer should obtain the highest price for his produce, and that the consumer should get it at the cheapest rate. I have no such desire. The thought running in my mind is that if, in respect of the exportable surplus, we make it our duty as far as possible to obtain for those engaged in this industry the world's parity, we shall give encouragement to them to enter into the business extensively and scientifically. I do not think many honorable members will claim that, compared with some European peoples, and particularly trie Danes, we have entered into the dairying industry as scientifically or as extensively as Ave might have done. By obtaining for our dairy farmers the fullest return for their surplus production, we shall induce them to enter more extensively and scientifically into their industry. By the adoption of more scientific methods, they will obtain greater results, and the Home consumers will thereby* benefit considerably. To emphasize this point, I shall make another quotation f rom Mr. Renard The facts that the writer brings mct are worth recording, and may give an impetus to those in the industry who have not given full consideration to the application of science to it. He says -

Dairying can bc made a gilt-edged medium of investment, and brought to almost an exact science by the use of scientific methods of feeding the cows and the land. The profitable nature of the rational scientific feeding of land and stock has been proved beyond question. The average production of butter per cow in the Commonwealth is authoritatively given as 165 lbs. It should be, and can be, raised to 265 lbs. per cow within the next ten years. The Danish dairy farmer raised the average production of butter per cow from 175 lbs. to 200 lbs. in five years, and to 260 lbs. in ten years from the date of the commencement of the campaign for the adoption of scientific method into the feeding of Denmark herds. Who will say that the Australian cannot do better than the Dane when he puts his mind to it?

In the earlier portion of my remarks I referred to the importance of this industry to the nation, and I should like for a moment to deal with a matter affecting the consumer. Only last week there was placed in my hands by a chemist a circular which he had received setting out that that splendid article, lactogen, which has been retailed to the people of Australia at 6s. per tin, is now to cost 9s. per tin. In other words', there is to be an increase of 50 per cent, in the price. This is a very important matter, and I propose to ask the Government to-morrow whether they are prepared to subsidize those who produce lactogen so that without any loss to the primary producer its price may not be increased to the consumers. I hope the Government will be able to make some arrangement whereby the cost of this commodity, which is so necessary to the child of the mother who is unable to nourish it in the natural way will not be raised. The burden of the increase must press most heavily upon the poorer classes of the community. By the employment of help in her home a wife, even in strenuou circumstances, can very often fulfil her full maternal duties. But the wife of a working man, who cannot afford help - who has to attend to her own houses hold duties until almost the moment of her accouchement, and who, three or four weeks after her child is born, has again to do a fair share of the work of the house - needs special assistance in nourishing her offspring. It appears to me, therefore, that this increase in the price of lactogen will be an additional burden on the shoulders of those least able to bear it.

I do not wish to take up the time of the House unduly, but during the course of the debate certain statements have been made to which I desire to refer. The honorable member for- Lilley (Mr. Mackay), for instance, said that he noticed that great interest was " now " being taken in the farmers by honorable members of the Labour party. I am glad to have that admission from a member of the Liberal party ; but there was no occasion for the honorable member to use the word " now," as for years past the Labour party has made it its duty to watch the interests of the primary producers, and to encourage their industries in every way. I also notice that the representatives of the Corner party made similar comments, and that the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Gibson) used words to this effect:- " A greater interest in the farmers is evident in the House on the Labour party's side than when I came here eighteen, months ago." I desire to remind the honorable member who made the statement that,, during the past eighteen months, and since he first entered this Chamber, there has been a general election, the results of which clearly indicated that the members of the Labour party have always been active in assisting the primary producers, because five additional members from primary producers' districts have entered the Chamber as direct supporters of the Labour party.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - I should like to know-

Mr GABB - I have a very good idea that the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) is now seeking to interrupt me in an endeavour to defend the Corner party, and it would appear that there is some foundation for the cartoon that was recently published in the Bulletin.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - I should like to know what this has to do with the Bill under discussion. I call your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) is discussing everything under the sun, but the proposal before the Chair.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is a reflection on the Chair.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - Mr. Speaker was otherwise engaged, or he would have noticed that the honorable member was not discussing the Bill. The honorable member is discussing questions far removed from the principles embodied in the measure, and it is time he discussed the butter question.

Suggest corrections