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Thursday, 24 September 1942


Mr WILSON (Wimmera) .- I add my plea to those already made on behalf of the dairying industry, which contributes so greatly to the food supplies of Australia, Great Britain, and our allies. I suppose it has felt the impact of war in this country to a greater degree than has any other primary industry. The price now being received by those engaged in it is not in keeping with the costs that they have to meet. The depletion of its man-power has been tremendous. Last night the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) made a dramatic appeal for the production of food supplies generally. I could not help being impressed by the somewhat theatrical' and paradoxical nature of his remarks. Honorable members opposite frequently appeal to the Government to release man-power for different industries, and take it to task because of the heavy drain it has permitted the Army to make on those industries; yet, on die other hand, they castigate the Government on the ground that it lias not done all that it might have done in support of the armed forces. Honorable members cannot have it both ways. As far as possible, there must be a scientific balance between the requirements of the food-producing industries and the needs of the Defence Forces. I agree that whatever sacrifices may be necessary must be made in order to save for this country the way of life and the form of government in which we believe. That, consideration is paramount in the minds of every one. There must be, however, a more equitable adjustment and better planning than have so far operated. Some time must elapse before the full fruits of what is attempted in connexion with a planned economy will be realized. I urge the Government to make all possible haste in bringing about the adjustments to which I have referred. The impact of the war has been felt most severely by the small dairy-farmers, many of whom, commenced with a moderate capital and from time to time have to meet heavy financial commitments. The position of such men is infinitely worse than that of the better-organized dairyman, who operates on a larger scale and has the advantage of being able to give better conditions to his employees. The majority of the smaller men have to be assisted by their wives and families, who have to work very long hours. I ask the Government to deal as sympathetically as possible with this section of the dairyfarmers. An increase of the price of butter-fat has been requested. I understand that the amount sought is 3d. per lb. That is fully justified by the conditions as we know them. A section of the industry believes that those engaged in it would be better served by means of a bounty. Should the Government decide on that form of assistance, the cost would be spread over the whole community. Whether that is the fairest way, in the interests of the dairyman and the community generally, will have to be shown. The application of daylight saving has had an adverse effect on the industry, and that is likely to continue. I have received many representations concerning that aspect. It involves a certain re-adjustment which would take some time and would result in a reduction of output by the herds. I consider that the primary producers have the worst of the economic deal in every community. Australia does not differ from other countries in that respect. But we have a fairly high standard, and are aiming to make it still higher. Much lias been done by the Government to improve the conditions of the producers. I appeal for the Government's most earnest consideration of the dairying industry and the greatest expedition possible in arriving at a decision, which I hope will be favorable to an increase of the price of butter-fat.







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