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Thursday, 11 April 1946

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - Not 2s. 6d., but 2s. 9£d. That -was on the 2nd November, in Sydney. The 2s. 9 1/2d a bushel was conceded by the Menzies Government on the 29th November, in this House, in answer to a 'question by the then honorable member for Wannon. Later, the Menzies Government became seised with the belief that certain injustices had been done in the acquisition of the wheat that had been grown in the 1938-39 season. It appointed Judge Payne, of South Australia, to sit as an adjudicator and to assess the damage that, had been done. Judge Payne submitted his report to the Curtin Government after its assumption of office. The recommendations that it contained have never been given effect. "I brought the matter to the notice of the Prime Minister late last year. The Chifley Government says in its defence that it will not pay the compensation recommended by Judge Payne to .the owners of that wheat, because they are merchants and not growers. Let the Minister contradict that if he can. He cannot stand on both pieces of ground at the one time. A few minutes ago he said that the Menzies Government had paid too low a price to the growers of wheat in 1939; yet on his recommendation the Chifley Government refused to pay the compensation recommended by Judge Payne because the owners of the wheat were merchants and not growers.

Mr SCULLY - I have spoken only of growers. I know that the honorable gentleman is considerate of the merchants.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - The matter has been before the honorable gentleman time and again. He knows perfectly well that certain merchants lost heavily. One Sydney merchant lost thousands of pounds because he was not allowed ' to complete a contract he had signed. Because of the sense of justice which permeates this Government, that owner, who happens to be a merchant, is not to get what a judge recommended that he should receive. I did not introduce this element into the debate; that was done by the Minister. I do not think he expected the " comeback ". I- have some knowledge of this matter. I was not Minister for Commerce twice without learning a few facts. I have not forgotten certain things that happened, but the subject of the debate to-day is npt what happened to merchants in 1939 or to growers up to a little while ago, but whether the present scheme, which is to operate for the forthcoming five years, is one that ought to be supported by this Parliament. That is the purpose of the motion of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin). The speech in answer to it by the Minister dealt with anything except the question that had been raised. The honorable gentleman was perfectly wise in refusing to face up to the case that had been presented by the honorable member for Bendigo; that is the best course he could have adopted. Let us consider .some of the facts. It. is perfectly true, as the Minister said, that the Labour party never voted against the flour tax. I cannot recall its. having done so. But the Minister ought to reread speeches which he made on it as a private member. It is a marvel to me that the honorable gentleman could have torn to pieces a proposal which was so strongly objected to by ..the Labour party on that occasion, and then failed to " face the barrier " by calling for a division. Neither he nor the party which sits behind him has yet been game to bring in a bill to repeal the flour tax, which lIlli remains on the statute-book. If a party, when assuming office, finds on the statute-book legislation to which it is politically opposed on principle, the honest course is to repeal it. That is something which I believe the present Government is not likely to do in connexion with the flour tax. It talks and squeal? a lot, but is singularly inactive.

As history seems to be the big subject this morn ing. I shall refer to the Scully plan. That plan was condemned by every member who sits on this side of the House as one of the must wicked and inintiitous schemes ever foisted on the producers of Austraia. Under the. new wheat scheme, the Scully plan has been .murdered. The Minister has committed infanticide ; he has strangled his own child. Not one word, not one syllable, can be found in 11 C new wheat scheme which refers to the Scully plan. There is nothing in it that even looks like the Scully plan.

Mr Lemmon - Does not the honorable member ever buy his baby a new frock?

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - 1 have seen in a grocer's shop a commodity that contains about one lemon to one melon, which are about the right proportions. I shall leave it to my friends of the Australian Country party to answer the Minister's speech on the wheat scheme. Where does he stand in respect of stock feed? There have been debates on that subject in this chamber, but the honorable gentleman has not been able to explain the basis on which the price was arrived at. Were all the sales grouped together, and was the price granted to the farmer the average of them all, or were the export sales grouped and was the price granted to the farmer the average of the export sales? Up to date, that has not been answered.

Mr Scully - It has been answered plainly. I have said that the price of concessional wheat is the average of the price obtained- for wheat exported and the heme consumption price of 5s. 2d. a bushel.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - This ls the first occasion on which we have been given the information. I thought that it might be left to my grandson to obtain it, when lit took his seat in this House; and he is not yet born.

The next matter to be considered is the Government's attitude towards d'rought relief. No previous Government has treated the growers in a drought area, so callously as has the present Government. Consider the legislation that, was passed at a special session of the Parliament of South Australia.

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