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Thursday, 18 July 1946

Mr CHAIRMAN - I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the clause.

Mr ANTHONY - I am replying to the statements of the Minister, who said that the amendment of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) to increase the representation of Western Australia on the Australian Wheat Board from one to two members had been moved to embarrass the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Lemmon) and the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Mountjoy). That is not the position. We consider that Western Australia is entitled to equal representation with New South Wales and Victoria. In any case, what is to prevent the honorable gentlemen to whom I have referred from voting in favour of the amendment if they are free men, as they should be in this Parliament ? The Minister knows, however, that they are bound by the iron rules of the party to which they belong.. Every member of the Labour party is required to vote according to caucus instructions. If the -honorable gentlemen believe that Western Australia should have two representatives on the board they should assert their freedom and vote for the amendment, but the Minister has said that they will vote against it. He has said in effect that they will be compelled to vote against it.

Mr Scully - I made no such statement. Why does not the honorable gentleman keep to the truth?

Mr ANTHONY - I desire to be fair to the Minister, and if I have misrepresented him I am prepared to make amends. I understood, the honorable gentleman to say that the amendment had been moved in order to place the honorable member for Forrest and the honorable member for Swan in an embarrassing position.

Mr Scully - I said that honorable gentlemen opposite were trying to do this.

Mr ANTHONY -It is only necessary to look at the faces of the two honorable members to judge whether they are embarrassed or not. I do not believe that the honorable members will be " game " to cross the floor and vote for the amendment, but I challenge them to do so. That will be a test of their sincerity. A greater acreage of wheat is sown usually in Western Australia than in Victoria, and the wheat industry is of primary importance to the economy of Western Australia. I consider, therefore, that the State should have greater representation. The vote that will be taken in a few minutes will demonstrate whether Labour representatives of country constituencies can exercise freedom of conscience, or whether they must vote according to the decision of their party.

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