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Thursday, 18 July 1946

Mr BERNARD CORSER (Wide Bay) . - I strongly resent the statement of the Minister (Mr. Scully) that members of the Opposition are stonewalling this measure and attempting to trap certain honorable gentlemen opposite who represent Western Australian constituencies.

Mr Scully - That is what is being done, and the honorable member knows it.

Mr BERNARD CORSER - I have listened to the honorable gentlemen who have spoken on the amendment, and it is quite untrue that they were stonewalling. But, without any coaxing, I intend to stand up for distant Western Australia, which, in some respects at least, has an affinity with Queensland. We intend to do our best to see that the wheat-growers of Western Australia are . treated fairly. The wheat industry of that State is one of its most important activities; it certainly involves more hard work than any other. The members of the Australian Country party believe that the wheat-farmers of Western Australia should have equal representation on the Australian Wheat Board with the farmers of the eastern States in which approximately the same quantity of wheat is grown each season. If this subject be considered calmly it will be realized that the Government's proposal is iniquitous. The Minister has said that the constitution of the Australian Wheat Board' was agreed toby the States. That is not so. It was agreed to at a conference of Ministers of Agriculture who were advised by under secretaries or other officers of State Departments of Agriculture. To my mind that is not fair. The farmers of Western Australia should not be deprived of fair representation because of the decision of such a conference. No agreement has been made by the various State governments on this matter. The most that can be said is that the Ministers for Agriculture, acting on the advice of public servants, reached an agreement. Such agreements should not be binding on this Parliament. If they are to be binding, they should not be made. The Minister has stated that he will not agree to the amendment and that the agreement reached at the conference of Ministers of Agriculture must be embodied in the bill. In other words, the honorable gentleman has a throat-hold on the members of his party and, in particular, on the representatives of two wheat:growing constituencies in "Western Australia. Any one can see with half an eye that those honorable gentlemen are in an unfortunate position. However, the Opposition is prepared to help them in this matter.

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