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Tuesday, 9 April 1946

Sir EARLE PAGE (Cowper) (1:41 AM) . - It must not be forgotten that .most of the organized marketing of Australian primary products is handled' by State or co-operative organizations. One of the objections to this' bill is that it does not contain provisions to protect and retain those organizations. The honorable member .for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) has lauded their efficiency, but under the system suggested in this measure there is nothing to protect them. For that reason. I am sorry that the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), who was prepared to extend the scope of the previous measure of social services, is not prepared to adopt a similar attitude towards this bill for organized marketing. I am convinced that if we could have' a purely co-operative system of marketing much of the difficulty in connexion with the definition of " primary products " would disappear. I desire to see organized marketing included in the constitutional powers of the 'Commonwealth as early as possible in order to overcome the difficulties caused by section 92 of the ' Constitution. I, therefore, ask the Attorney-General, if he "desires the .passage of this legislation, to have regard to what took place when this question was submitted to the people on a previous occasion. It will be remembered that, despite the fact that in this Parliament there was substantial support of the then Government's proposal by the Labour party only about ten or twelve electorates throughout the Commonwealth gave a " Yes " vote. Notwithstanding that the present Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Forde) and the then Labour Premier of Queensland advocated a " Yes " vote, the only Queensland electorate which accepted their advice was Wide Bay. I urge the Attorney-General to take steps to satisfy the primary producers that under the proposals submitted to them they will get something of real value. ' If they could be convinced on that point, the consumers of Australia might be persuaded to support the alteration. No one will question that hides are a primary product; but, when processed, hides become leather, and leather is made into various articles. Where does the hide cease to be a primary product? 1 believe that, with greater co-operation between Commonwealth and State governments and cooperative bodies, most of the problems which now face us would be solved without having to define matters too precisely. We should endeavour to give to the primary producers what they desire in this connexion.

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