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Friday, 5 April 1946

Mr BLAIN (Northern Territory) .- I had not intended to take part in this debate, because I have been away attending to my duties in the Northern Territory and returned only a few days ago. I considered that, having been out of circulation, I should watch and listen to what I thought would be a wrangle between lawyers about the proposed alterations to the Constitution. However, having listened to all the encomiums which have passed between honorable members on both sides of the House, and seeing how matey every one seems to be, I thought I should join in the debate. After hearing some of the speeches, particularly those of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), who advocated the abolition of the States without the establishment of anything to take their place, and of the young honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), with whose remarks about the duties of the Commonwealth Parliament I disagree, I . consider it to be my duty, first to my conscience and secondly to my constituents, to make a contribution to the debate. I preface my remarks by referring to a speech made by the famous Burke in the House of Commons, in which he made a very clear distinction between delegates and representatives. I fear that many honorable members, particularly on the Government side of the House, do not appreciate their responsibilities, and fail to differentiate between the. duties of a delegate and those of a representative. Their speeches indicate that they have come here merely as delegates instead of as representatives of the people. I shall not have much to say about social services or orderly marketing. The correct policy to be adopted in connexion with orderly marketing was stated clearly by the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) and the right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden), and there is little more to be said about it. However, I wish to supplement the remarks of the honorable member for Maranoa. He spoke of conditions in a district with which he is very familiar. 1 own a small property in the same district, and I speak in terms common to every honorable member who has an interest in the land and carries a mortgage round his neck. On my property, which is 4 or 5 miles away from the property of the honorable member for Maranoa, I produce 500 .or 600 Hereford cattle every year. Therefore, the meat market is of some interest to me. However, it is of much more interest to the people in the distant Northern Territory whom I represent. During the war, this Government showed so little business acumen that the small cattle-raisers in the far north of the Northern Territory received a very raw deal. Therefore, I am not complacent, and those cattlemen will not be complacent, about granting the powers which the Government seeks.

Mr Mulcahy - The honorable member is only barracking for Vesteys.

Mr BLAIN - I am about to do the very reverse of that. I welcome the honorable member's interjection, because I intend to kick Vesteys Limited neck and crop out of the Territory, and compel them to confine their activities to exporting only - as did Argentina. If the honorable member studied Queensland Country Life, a journal which circulates in Queensland and the Northern Territory, he would have seen two articles written by me and published about two months ago which indicated what I propose to ' do about Vesteys Limited. I shall point out some of the mistakes of the Government during the war, as I have learned of them from my constituents whom I recently visited. The Government let a contract in the Northern Territory to a certain cattleraising firm for the supply of cattle at £5 10s. a head. Believe it or not, when delivery was about to be made, Vesteys Limited was given a contract by this Government, which now seeks increased powers over marketing, for the supply of 26,000 cattle at £7 10s. a head. How did Vesteys Limited earn the extra £2 a head for the cattle? One small cattleraiser delivered 400 or 500 head of cattle at the abattoirs S miles down the river from Katherine. The manager of Vesteys Limited, who was sitting in his car at the yards at the time, bought the cattle for £5 103. a head and then took them over for killing at the abattoirs at £7 10s. a head, making an outright profit of £2 a head within a few minutes. Yet this Government claims to be looking after the interests of the " little man ". It appals me to learn of the things that happened during the war. I say to the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) that I am waiting for a full debate to be held on the subject of the meat industry, when I shall leave very little unsaid about Vesteys Limited. As the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Lemmon) said, I shall " pull no punches " when dealing with that firm.

Mr Lemmon - Were the cattle mentioned by the honorable member of good quality ?

Mr BLAIN - I see that the honorable, member is interested, and I shall repeat the story so that he will have no doubts about what happened. The cattle which I mentioned, numbering about 400 or 500, were brought to the killing yards near Vesteys Limited station 200 miles south of Darwin. The owner wants to- know why this Labour Government asked him to bring the cattle 700 miles to the saleyards and then allowed Vesteys Limited manager, without getting out of his motor car, to buy them and resell at a profit of _ £2 a head. I . ask the Government to answer that question. I shall take the opportunity on a more suitable occasion to point out to the House how insidious are the activities of Vesteys Limited. For instance, the company had large mobs of cattle driven across the Northern Territory and through Queensland, taking two years, including stops of six months at atime .at some stations, to the 'market at Cannon Hills.

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