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Wednesday, 3 June 1942


Mr CLARK (Darling) .- The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Marwick) has moved the adjournment of the House to discuss -

The terms and conditions of acquisition and payment relative to wheat delivered to the number 5 wheat pool and the Government's failure to finalize payment to farmers on wheat delivered to the numbers 2, 3 and 4 wheat pools.

The second, third and fourth pools were merely attempts by the then Government to deal with the wheat produced in this country in the ordinary way, that is by acquiring it from the growers, placing it in a pool, and making advance payments to the growers as it was sold. For various reasons, there is still in those pools a quantity of wheat, although it is, admittedly, not large, and final payments cannot be made until it has been sold, because it is not for the Government to fix what price the growers shall get.


Mr Marwick - How much wheat remains to be disposed of?


Mr CLARK - I do not know the exact quantity. The Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully) may be able to give that information. The No. 5 pool represented the first attempt by the Commonwealth Government to give to the wheat-growers a guaranteed price. The chief disability with regard to that scheme was that the guaranteed price was on the f.o.b. basis instead of the f.o.r. basis. If the farmer were paid on the f.o.r. basis, he would know better his financial position and would be able to carry on accordingly. The previous Government agreed with the representatives of the farmers throughout Australia to pay £27,000,000 on a crop of 140,000,000 bushels. The crop exceeded 140,000,000 by 13,000,000 bushels. When the amount of £27,000,000 was set aside, the then Minister for Commerce announced that if the crop exceeded 140,000,000 bushels the matter would be further considered. The representatives of the farmers and the Government conferred in pursuance of that undertaking, and it was decided that the amount of £27,000,000 should be spread over the whole crop of 153,000,000 bushels, instead of over 140,000,000 bushels, which meant that, instead of 3s. 1Od., the farmers will receive about 3s. 6d. a bushel. The Minister for Commerce proposes to submit to Cabinet for approval a scheme on the lines proposed by the Prime Minister in his policy speech at the last general elections, in which he said that there should be a definite guaranteed price to the grower on a restricted quantity of production. The Government intends to make the payments as I believe that they should be made. The Labour party's proposals are that 4s. a bushel should bc paid-


Mr Badman - I rise to a point of order. The House is not considering future schemes ; it is considering the pools which have already been in operation.


Mr SPEAKER - That is so. The motion relates only to past pools and to the No. 5 pool.


Mr CLARK - I was pointing out that, in my opinion, this motion has been submitted in an endeavour to discredit the scheme which is proposed by the present Government. However, in view of your decision, Mr. Speaker, I shall not proceed along those lines, and I shall confine ray remarks to the pools mentioned in the motion. No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 pools provided that payments could only be made to the growers as the wheat was realized. This is being done by the Government as speedily as possible. The farmers are receiving from the No. 5 pool the price that the previous Government guaranteed, and, in that connexion, this Government is honouring the promise of its predecessor, as confirmed at a conference of wheat-growers' representatives in Melbourne last year. It was foreseen at that time that the crop would exceed 140,000,000 bushels, and the conference agreed that the guaranteed price should be spread over the entire crop.


Mr Badman - Where did the honorable member obtain that information?


Mr CLARK - The Minister at the table will tell the House who was present at the conference, and will explain the resolution, which was passed, I believe, unanimously. The fact is that the conference decided to spread the guaranteed price over the whole crop, and thus provided for a much lower return a bushel to the farmers.







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