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Wednesday, 21 October 1931

Mr LATHAM (Kooyong) .- This clause consists of definitions, one of which defines " dockage " as meaning any reduction in price made in respect of wheat on the ground that the wheat is below fair average quality. Wheat sales during the coming year will be effected between private persons, companies, cooperative organizations and the like, and the amount of dockage will depend upon what such persons, companies or cooperative organizations agree upon. The price will depend entirely upon what is agreed to. It has already been pointed out that, by devious devices, it will be possible for those concerned in the transaction to secure money from the Commonwealth funds to which they are not entitled. I, therefore, have some doubt as to the soundness of the whole system.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The bounty would be reduced to the extent by which the wheat was below fair average quality.

Mr LATHAM - All prices will be fixed by the individuals concerned, who, if they fix a low price will get' a higher bounty, and if they fix a high price will receive a lower bounty. That weakness appears to be inherent in the system, and I do not see how any effective provision can be made to overcome it.

Mr Paterson - The only safeguard would be a bounty which remained at the same level regardless of the fluctuations in the price of wheat.

Mr LATHAM - Or a bounty fixed on a sliding scale with a vanishing point, although such a system would be more complicated. There is also a definition of f free-on-board price ". During my. second-reading speech I said that the term " free-on-board price " does not, so far as I can see, appear anywhere in the bill. In a later provision there is the term " free-on-board equivalent " which, of course, is distinct from " free-on-board price ". I do not feel inclined to accept any particular personal responsibility for the bill, or for the machinery which it sets up. I have perused it for the first time to-day, and am in a position only to offer some slight criticism, and to make some brief comments upon it. Therefore, all I propose to do is to make one or two suggestions, and place upon the Government the responsibility of acting upon them, or not acting upon them. I suggest that " free-on-board price " should be omitted from the definition clause. I also direct attention to the fact that " wheat " is defined as wheat harvested in Australia between certain dates. We shall shortly be dealing with the Wheat Charges Bill, in' which wheat is defined as wheat produced in Australia during a certain period. Surely the phraseology should be the same' in both bills.. If it is intended to be wheat harvested between certain dates, the word " harvested " should be used in the other bill. Harvested is a definite term that fixes the point of time. Harvested is used in this bill. If we are to vary the definition of wheat in the Wheat Charges Bill to mean wheat produced during a certain period, it may be arguable that there is doubt as to the precise time of the production of wheat. I do not know if such a position can arise on the facts, but I suggest to the Minister that the same definition should be in each bill.

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