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Thursday, 18 July 1946

Mr ANTHONY (Richmond) .- We have listened to two extraordinary speeches from honorable members on the Government side - one from the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) and the other from the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Lemmon). In reply to the clear and forceful argument of the honor able member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), in which he showed, by citing figures about acreages and yields, what the representation of each State should be . on the board, the . honorable ( member for Forrest said that the amendment could not be accepted because the present ratio of representation had been agreed to before the bill was introduced to Parliament. If an arrangement of that kind is to be meekly accepted, what is the use of bringing the bill before Parliament at all ? Apparently, a decision was reached in the first place between the Minister and certain selected wheat-growers. I say selected because all the growers do not belong to the wheat-growers' organizations. The proposal was accepted by the Minister, and then placed before the State Ministers for Agriculture, who concurred. Then it was placed before caucus, and, having received the stamp of approval from all these authorities, it was tossed on the table of this House, and we are expected to go through the farce of debating it. Are we to accept the humiliating position, as suggested by the honorable member for Forrest - who represents a Western Australian constituency, and is a -supporter of the Government - that Parliament cannot amend the clause because it was agreed to in principle by various authorities outside Parliament? If that is the spirit in which legislation is presented to Parliament, it ls high time that those responsible altered their attitude.

The honorable member for Ballarat said that he did not favour the proposal that #ie term of office of members of the wheat board should be fixed at two or at three years. He believes that they should continue in office- at the pleasure of the Minister because, he said, after a few years they might have gained such valuable experience that their services should not be dispensed with. He put that forward as a reason for taking from the growers their right to remove from the board undesirable members. All those selected to fill such positions do not remain in them for life, as members of this Parliament know only too well. They do not always continue to enjoy the approval of. those whom they are supposed to represent, a fact which, I have no doubt, will he made very clear before long to some honorable members opposite who may have thought that they were here for life.

The amendment of the honorable member for. Barker is a perfectly reasonable one, assuming that we accept the principle that certain States should be specifically represented on the board. I agree that big boards are unwieldy, as I know from experience. However, if certain States are granted representation out of proportion to their merits we shall strike trouble, and it was with the. idea of obviating trouble that the honorable member moved his amendment. I am sure that if the Minister agreed to restrict the membership of the board to six representatives without regard to State rights, the honorable1 member for Barker would agree because he would regard a smaller board as likely to be more efficient. It is obvious that provision has been made for larger representation of New South Wales interests because that State is the most populous and because of its importance, not as a wheat-growing, but as an industrial area. In other words, New South Wales is to have this dominance in the affairs of the board because it contains within its borders approximately' 40 per cent, of the Australian population. In constituting the board we should entirely disregard the numerical strength of the States, except insofar as it relates to the wheat industry itself.

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