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Thursday, 18 July 1946

Mr McEWEN (Indi) .- The attitude of the Minister is inconsistent. First, he said that the representation from the various States had been determined by the representatives of the growers, and now he says that the numbers cannot be altered because they were agreed to in consultation with the State Ministers of Agriculture. He added that the latter had -asked for time to consult their officials and advisers, after which they had agreed to the representation in the - clause- -In effect, he tells us that the . representation was decided, not by himself, but by the State ' Ministers for Agriculture, and as he did not object" to their proposal, he accepted it. He seeks to fortify his arguments by telling us that there is also to be appointed an Advisory Committee in each State, that it will be appointed by the State authorities, and that he has given an assurance that the: Commonwealth will not seek to interfere in any way.' The Minister cannot have' it both ways. If the State committees are to be free from Commonwealth intervention - and I agree that they should - then the Minister cannot justify the representation proposed in the clause for the federal body on the ground that it was agreed to by State representatives.

Mr Scully - The whole plan was agreed to by the States.

Mr McEWEN - That is so, but the States were not in a position to evolve a plan for themselves. The real core of the plan must have been Commonwealth finance, and the plan must continue to be a Commonwealth responsibility. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie ' Cameron), by citing figures about the number of growers and the acreage normally sown to wheat in Western Australia and South Australia, proved that those States were entitled to more representation on the board. Actually, the acreage under wheat in South- Australia and Western Australia is normally greater than in Victoria, and the total yield from those States is very nearly as much as that from Victoria. Therefore, if arithmetic is to be our guide, there appears to be ample justification for granting "Western Australia and South Australia- increased representation. We have frequently heard of the disabilities of the more distant States. Here is' one way in which we can help- to improve their lot. I am astounded that this debate should have progressed so far without any Government supporters from constituencies in South Australia or Western Australia rising to. speak in favour of the amendment. How they will explain their attitude to the wheat-growers whom they claim to represent I do- not know. However, that is their affair, not mine. I regard the amendment as a very fair one, and I .ask the Minister to reconsider his attitude to it.

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