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Friday, 2 December 1938


Mr ROSEVEAR (DALLEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - May act! There is not going to be any fight. The real thing is that there is an attempt on the part of the Government, and possibly of the State governments, to evade the obligation to transfer fanners from marginal areas. Almost every year we have been told the same old story about the distressed wheat-farmers. More than £20,000,000. has been expended to alleviate their distress. On every occasion on which money has been appropriated for their assistance, we have been told by the Government, " It is only a temporary measure; we are going to evolve a long-range policy ".

That long-range policy has not yet materialized and the problem of the distressed wheat-farmers still exists. The Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry was costly to the Australian public, but not much notice has been taken of its findings. It laid stress on three important aspects : The debt structure on the wheat industry; marginal and uneconomic farming, and seasonal difficulties of the wheat-growers. I thought when the Government decided to go to the length of putting a levy on the people's bread that at least it would be able to a degree to justify it by providing a permanent solution of some of the problems that beset the industry. When I saw clause 6 I felt that at last it had0 decided to deal with the question of marginal and uneconomic wheat-farming. Now I find that, although at the beginning of the week it purposes to do something of a permanent character by devoting £500,000 a year for the abandonment of marginal wheat-growing areas, it has now departed from that intention.


Mr Thompson - We can still do that.


Mr ROSEVEAR - The Government would be getting somewhere if it did. It would be relieved of the need to provide relief for the uneconomic farmer if it enabled the industry to be rid of him. Money expended in that direction would do permanent good, but, if this amendment be incorporated in the bill, I can forsee the Government allowing this money to be dissipated in a direction other than that originally intended, the marginal farmer being allowed to remain on his land year after year, and being assisted year after year to stay on his farm. I' am opposed, therefore, to the amendment.


Mr Thompson - It was moved by the Labour party in the Senate.


Mr ROSEVEAR - I am not concerned about that. Party loyalty often forces us to do things which we otherwise would not do, but I tell the Assistant Minister that I shall vote against this amendment, just as I voted against the bread tax originally. The intention of sub-clause 5 of clause 7 was the transfer of wheat-farmers from marginal lands. It has been pointed out in support of the amendment that Queensland has no marginal lands and that, unless the amendment be made, it will not derive any benefit from the allocation of £500,000 a year. If Queensland has no marginal areas it is not entitled to participate.


Mr Scully - It may soon have marginal lands.


Mr ROSEVEAR - That is so. If it does, there is nothing in the bill to prevent it from participating in the scheme. While Queensland has no marginal land, it should not participate.







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