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Tuesday, 9 April 1946

Mr POLLARD (Ballarat) (1:34 AM) . - There has been an attempt by the Opposition to befog the issue before the committee - indeed, to burlesque it. It is incomprehensible that honorable members opposite who represent country constituencies should have any doubt in their minds as to what is meant by " primary products ". Neither can any intelligent person doubt that the judiciary would have any difficulty in deciding what the term means. For instance, no one would deny that wheat, meat, chicory, potatoes and livestock are primary products. There may be an element of doubt regarding such products as pollard, bran, processed meats and processed fruits, &c, but even if those points are left undecided, the general purpose of the bill will still be achieved. This is to place in the hands of the primary producers an instrument which will enable them co-operatively to control and market primary products before they are processed. Once that is achieved, they will be in a position, with the help of legislation passed by this Parliament, to determine what shall happen to the product after it leaves their hands. For instance, the potato-growers can decide whether they will, or will not, supply glucose factories. They can say to the manufacturers that they must sell the processed article at a certain price, or supplies of potatoes will be cut off. In addition, the producers can set up processing works of their own, and they can always determine for themselves the conditions under which they shall sell products, whether it be livestock or any other, to the processing works. If the producers are able effectively to control the processing of their commodity from the tree or the soil until it is sold, they will be able to control also its disposal after sale. Here is an example: In Victoria and New South Wales, there are well-organized egg-marketing boards operating under State legislation. In Victoria, and probably New South Wales also, the organization is so efficient that the board can determine how the eggs shall be processed, what agent shall handle them, and the price at which they shall be sold to the public. They are not worried about the definition of " primary products ". Obviously, an egg is a primary product. Once the producers of eggs have control of the marketing of eggs, the control of processed eggs is a simple matter. As it is clear that the fears that have been expressed are without foundation, I ask the committee to accept the Minister's amendment.

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