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Thursday, 4 April 1946


Mr SPEAKER - Is the House agreeable?


Mr Lemmon - No.


Mr SPEAKER - Objection having been raised, the honorable member will have to read the figures.


Mr ADERMANN - They are as follows : -

 

Those figures dispose of the contention that government-controlled boards are preferable to grower-controlled boards.

The Apple and Pear Board operated in Queensland up to 1942, and it paid to the growers only 5s. 3d. a bushel for their fruit, although the average price which had been received generally was from 27s. 6d. to 30s. a case. We, know that the fruit pool has made a profit of at least 3s. 5d. a case in that year, but what has happened to it? When I have asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture what he intends to do about the matter, he has replied that an appeal to the courts is pending. That was a few years ago, and there seems to be a deliberate attempt on the part of the Government to allow the issue to rest, so that the growers shall not get the full price to which they are entitled for their commodity. If that is how governmentcontrolled boards will operate, we should throw them overboard.


Mr Mountjoy - What would happen to the fruit if there were no Apple and Pear Board ?


Mr ADERMANN - If we allowed for the quantity of fruit wasted and compared the average price realized with the price obtained for a similar quantity of fruit before the war, we should find that the growers are worse off to-day under the present government-controlled board. I have before me a statement about the board having to face another heavy loss. That is a further instance of the unsatisfactory result of government-controlled boards. Whilst I admit that if an industry is not economically successful, governments may consider it advisable to sustain them by granting necessary assistance, either by a subsidy or in some other way. I still maintain that a growercontrolled board should be established. The Government representative on the board will always look after the interests of the Government. I have found it a pleasure to work with the Government representative in Queensland on the Peanut Board since 1924. He has been of assistance to the Board in every way, yet he has not failed to safeguard the interests of the Government. Certainly in that case the Government had no financial interest in the matter beyond guaranteeing certain advances by the Commonwealth Bank. The whole of the amount of £120,000 expended upon a plant for storage and treatment was found by the growers.


Mr George Lawson - In other words, the Queensland Government has been a good friend to the Queensland peanutgrowers.


Mr ADERMANN - I have already said as much publicly. Farmers will not readily accept government control of their products. The honorable member for Adelaide said that he had received many requests from farmers that the present system of government control be continued, I have never received such a request, but I have had many requests that the system be abolished.


Mr Calwell - When it suits them they want government control; when it does not they want to get rid of it.


Mr ADERMANN - The farmers want stability. They want marketing to be placed upon an orderly and permanent basis, but they want to have an interest in the selling of their own products, just as would the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) if he were the proprietor' of a business. When the Commonwealth Government assumed control of the marketing of peanuts, the manager of the Peanut Board and I went down to Melbourne to arrange details. Commonwealth officers had recommended that the entire crop be used for making oil. We asked for information about prices, seeing that there would be a difference of about £.1.80,000 if the entire crop were used for making oil. As a matter of fact, I doubt whether the officials knew whether peanuts grew on trees or under the ground. I' asked them what were the existing stocks of oil in Australia and what were the stocks of vegetable seeds from which oil might be made. I learned that they had made no inquiries to obtain this information. I told them that, they would not get peanuts for making into oil unless the Government could give an assurance that the oil was needed. A conference of the big users of vegetable oils, such as Lever Brothers, was called, and we found that all of them, as good businessmen, had twelve months' stock on hand, and no one wanted peanut oil. By our action in this regard, we saved the Government £180,000. .If that is an example of government control, I say, "wipe" it. Generally, government officials know so little about commodities that it is much better to leave such matters to those who have practical knowledge.


Mr Calwell - The honorable member would leave it to the middle men, and they would get the lot;


Mr ADERMANN - If the Minister wishes to know my record* regarding orderly marketing schemes, I refer him to Mr. Bulcock, Director-General of Agriculture, and to Mr. Forgan Smith, the ex-Premier of Queeusland. I have always tried to keep organized marketing separate from party politics. I am prepared to work with any government, believing it has the right to govern once it has been elected by the people. I worked for the marketing referendum in 1937, when many members of the Labour party were opposed to it.


Mr Calwell - I voted for it, and worked for it, too.


Mr ADERMANN - The Leader of Opposition (Mr. Menzies) raised the question of the meaning of the term " primary produce ", and said that it ought to be clarified. I agree with him. I know what I mean by primary produce, but the judges of the High Court might not agree with me. It is probable that they have had little or no experience of primary products, and in arriving at a definition, they might be guided by their law books or by the arguments of lawyers. Why not clarify the position now? I should like every product grown on the land to come within the definition, and also butter and cheese. Every one will concede that- coal and iron ore are primary products, but is the Government trying, in this measure, to sneak control over those industries?


Mr Calwell - What a suspicious mind the honorable member has.


Mr ADERMANN - The Government has taught me- to be suspicious. I should like the Minister to clear up this point, and also to give an assurance that the marketing of primary produce will not be handed over to government-controlled boards. The growers should have the right to market their products under a system such as that which operated in Queensland. " I cannot imagine the Government's proposals in regard to orderly marketing being very popular, although I hope that they will be. There are deficiencies that prevent the formation of marketing boards on a Commonwealth basis ; therefore it is necessary that the Commonwealth should have the extra power for the marketing of crops which are produced in two or more States. Where 'a crop is produced in only one State, little difficulty arises, because the matter can be controlled by State laws, although there was some friction even in regard to control of the peanut industry, which is peculiar to Queensland. If marketing is to be wholly controlled by Government boards I do not want it, and .neither do the growers. As" a matter of fact, the wheat-growers of

Queensland are up in arms against Commonwealth control now. They want to get back to the Queensland system of control which was in operation for nineteen years. Any honorable member who doubts me on this point may come to Queensland and debate the subject with the growers. I admit that the geographical position of Queensland has conferred advantages on the wheat-growers of that State, but I maintain that any general marketing organization, if it is to be successful, should guard the advantages which Queensland may now enjoy. The organization should seek to raise the standards in the other States to that of Queensland.

In his second-reading speech, the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt), speaking of the Government's proposals in regard to industrial matters, said -

These wider national powers have been exercised with marked success. This has been shown by the great- expansion of industrial production that has taken place.

Obviously, there has been an expansion of war industries, but where is the expansion of Australia's peace-time industries ? What expansion has ' taken place in Queensland and Western Australia, on the outer rim? There has been none. Labour governments prefer to foster the horse-racing industry rather than those industries which are vita! to a country, and while that attitude is persisted in, national industries will not be encouraged. If industrial turmoil, strife, and disregard of Government orders are to be regarded as the measure of success, then the Government's policy has been successful. That policy has also led to the centralization of industry, whereas we know that, if Australia is ever to become a great nation, industry must be decentralized. I recall the interjection of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) concerning England. After all, England is only a spot on the map compared with the areas of Australian States, other than Tasmania and Victoria, but much has been achieved in the United Kingdom in the way of industrial expansion and decentralization. The Premier of Queensland, Mr. Hanlon, approached Lord Nuffield and other manufacturers with a request that they should establish industries in Queensland, but the manufacturers raised the issue of high transport costs. [Extension of lime granted.']Mr. Hanlon suggested that the Commonwealth might come to the rescue by instituting a Commonwealth transport costs pool. As Australia is a federation, all the States should be treated alike> and the southern States should not be averse to assisting in the establishment of industries in other States. The Premier of Queensland put the matter neatly when, referring to the attitude of Commonwealth governments to Queensland, he said,- " When Canberra looks north, the sun gets in its eyes ". That is the attitude of the Central Government towards Queensland. The centralization of industry is not to the benefit of Australia. ' I indicate clearly that I oppose any alienating of the arbitration system. To suggest that hours of labour and wages should become the playthings of politics is ridiculous, especially in view of the lack of. knowledge in this House of problems associated with terms and conditions of employment. In such circumstances, the Labour party at election times might say to the people, " If you vote for us we will add another 10s. a week to your wages ", and the Opposition, because of its better knowledge and business ability, would be able to offer a lot more. The situation -would become farcical, and there would be no impartial decisions. I heard the honorable, member for Humeask, " Why should not this Parliament fix uniform wages ? " Uniform wage rates do not apply to-:day even within States; there are three wage parities in Queensland alone. How could this Parliament decide wage parities for the whole of Australia? Maranoa is one of the largest Commonwealth electorates, and, therefore, 1 could, with justification, ask for a 10s. loading' on the basic wage in that area over and above the rate in smaller and less remote electorates. The system proposed by the Government would be ridiculous. I stand four-square for the. existing conciliation and arbitration system. If this Parliament adopts the Government's proposals by passing these bills, I shall be content to leave the decision in the hands of the people at the referendum in the true democratic -way.







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