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Friday, 11 September 1942


Mr POLLARD (Ballarat) .- The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) has rendered a distinct service to this Government by moving the adjournment of the House to-day in order to discuss the wheat industry. He has afforded the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully) and Government supporters an opportunity to enlarge upon the virtues of the new wheat scheme which the Minister has announced on behalf of the Curtin Government. He has also revealed the complete lack of faith which members of the present Opposition had, and still have, in the scheme introduced by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) when he was in office. The honorable member for Barker administered that scheme for a period.


Mr Archie Cameron - I did not. I was a back bencher at that time.


Mr POLLARD - The honorable gentleman administered the scheme in 1940.


Mr Archie Cameron - Do not be ridiculous. I was out of office at that time.


Mr POLLARD - At any rate, the honorable gentleman was a government supporter.


Mr SPEAKER - Order ! The honorable member for Ballarat must address the Chair.


Mr POLLARD - The honorable member for Barker will hardly deny that for a period he administered the Wheat Industry Assistance Act, and that under that act allocations of money were made to several State governments in order to enable them to assist farmers in marginal areas.


Mr Archie Cameron - That has nothing to do with this subject.


Mr POLLARD - The honorable gentleman may discuss the matter further after I have poured some mud on him.


Mr SPEAKER - There is very little time available for honorable members to discuss this subject, and I ask, therefore, that interjections be discontinued.


Mr POLLARD - The honorable member for Barker has a habit of casting aspersions on people by innuendo. He has adopted this practice in relation to the Postmaster-General (Senator Ashley) and even in this debate he has suggested by innuendo that the Government proposes to appoint a convicted person to the Australian Wheat Board. Before making such insinuations the honorable gentleman would be well advised to look into his own conduct. In 1940 the honorable member owned a farm in a marginal area in South Australia. He also was responsible for declining to make an allocation to the Government of Victoria of moneys intended for the assistance of farmers in marginal areas.


Mr Archie Cameron - No allocation was made to the Government of Victoria because it did not comply with the law.


Mr POLLARD - That is an easy excuse. The money needed for this purpose was raised partly from the people of Victoria, and farmers in marginal areas in that State had a right to participate in the disbursements that were made. Dealing with the honorable gentleman's own position, I cite his own reported remarks, which appear in Hansard, vol. 163, at page689. The speech was made on the 9th May, 1940. The honorable gentleman said -

I know what I am talking about.

He always claims that he knows what he is talking about. He went on -

I live 5 miles from the Victorian border. I am in the marginal area.

Obviously if the honorable member's farm was in the South Australian marginal area the farms situated just over the Victorian border nearby were also in a marginal area, yet no allocation was made to Victoria for the assistance of those farmers. Two government supporters at that time, the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) and the then honorable member for Wannon, who was subsequently defeated at the polls, were so ashamed at what was clone that on one occasion they hid themselves in the gallery while a debate took place in the House on the subject. I was present at the time and noticed their actions.


Mr Paterson - I have never done such a thing in my life.


Mr POLLARD - As a result of the failure of the honorable member for Barker to make an allocation to the Government of Victoria for the assistance of Victorian farmers in marginal areas, the Government of South Australia received a larger allocation than would otherwise have been made, and for this reason the honorable member was able to sell his farm for £1,603, a. price which he would not have received had the Government of Victoria obtained its proper allocation of the money available for the assistance of farmers in marginal areas. Having these facts in mind, I say that persons who hurl innuendoes at other people without stating specific cases would be well advised to examine their own actions. I have never questioned the honesty of the honorable member for Barker, but something was done, undoubtedly, by the honorable gentleman when he was Minister for Commerce, which enabled the Government of South Australia to pay a higher price for farms in marginal areas than it would have been able to pay had Victoria obtained its proper allocation of the funds available for distribution. That fact is indisputable. The honorable member for Barker may make any explanation he likes later of the circumstances of the case, but I challenge truthful contradiction of what I have said. There can be no doubt that the honorable gentleman obtained a substantial benefit as the result of his allocation of the money available for the assistance of farmers in marginal areas.

I am also glad that the honorable member submitted this motion because it gave the former Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page) an opportunity to praise the Curtin Government for its administration of that right honorable gentleman's own scheme - an inheritance of this Government, and a bad one. The scheme would ih ave been infinitely worse than it is but for the constant agitation of Labour members, when they were in opposition, for a sympathetic administration of it. While we were in op position we had need continually to criticize the Government of that day for its lack of sympathy with the farmers and to urge them to act with justice and decency towards wheat-growers who were passing through a time of severe trial. The scheme, as originally introduced by Sir Earle Page, was paltry in the extreme, and it was improved only as the result of constant agitation by the Labour party; yet the honorable member for Barker has had the cheek to-day to criticize the sympathetic administration of the scheme by the present Minister of Commerce. The fact is that this Government has acted generously towards the farmers and has achieved the best possible results from the scheme which it inherited. It is therefore hypocritical for honorable members opposite to indulge in captious criticism of this Government on the score of a lack of sympathy with the farmers. For many years now, with relatively short breaks, the farmers have been passing through difficulties. This was particularly the case while antiLabour governments controlled their destinies. The Labour party has always been in favour of a generous scheme for the assistance of the wheat-growers, for it realizes the value of the wheat industry to this country. For this reason it administered the previous Government's wheat scheme with sympathy, and it has now introduced a new wheat scheme which many wheat-growers - small and large - regard as first class. To support my contention I shall read a letter which I have received from a wheat-fanner in a big way in the electorate of the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. McDonald).[Extension of time granted.] The letter is as follows : - " Glastonbury ", Maroona. 8th July, 1042.







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