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Thursday, 18 July 1946

Mr TURNBULL (WIMMERA, VICTORIA) . -I propose to take advantage of the ruling that we may discuss whether the ' price should be at sidings or at ports.

I believe that the price should be paid for the wheat at sidings. This would give the growers a more reasonable return, and would also be a step towards decentralization. Only by achieving decentralization can we maintain our present' standard of living. The Premier of Victoria, Mr. Cain, said in Melbourne this week -

Melbourne is becoming too unwieldy. There cannot be a balanced economy until the population is more evenly distributed.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) said that production was the key to further relief from taxation. Therefore, I believe that it is important that the proposed price of wheat should be paid at sidings, because that would be a step in the direction of decentralization. Why should the growers have to send their wheat to a port in order to get a price? Why should they not be able to deliver it at a railway siding and get a price there? It reads very well in the newspapers that the growers are to receive 5s. 2d. a bushel, but in actual fact they will receive only 4s. 2d. or 4s. 3d. after rail freights have been deducted. Why should farmers have to sell at Melbourne prices and buy at Melbourne prices? Country residents have suffered all the time. If a farmer has to telephone to Melbourne for a duplicate part for his tractor it may. cost him 10s. by the time he has had a couple of extensions. On the other hand, a Melbourne factory owner, who wants a duplicate part for a machine, rings up the manufacturer and places his order at a cost of 2d. or less, and he may talk for as long as he likes. This Government has talked much of promoting decentralization, yet it is not prepared to bring in a plan under which wheat-growers will be paid for their wheat at country sidings. I am not one-sided, and I commend the Government of Victoria for establishing wool stores at Portland, because I cannot see any reason for hauling wool or any other commodity all the way. to the metropolis.

Mr McLeod - The Liberal party does not favour putting the stores at Portland.

Mr TURNBULL (WIMMERA, VICTORIA) - I am not committed to the policy of the Liberal party, but to what the Australian Country party stands for. The building of wool stores at Portland is a step towards decentralization, but the payment of growers for their wheat at country sidings would be a much more important step. It is necessary to attract people to the country from the city, and this can be done only by improving living conditions iri the country.

Mr Mountjoy - Does the honorable member favour the selling of superphosphate at country sidings?

Mr TURNBULL (WIMMERA, VICTORIA) - Yes, but I know that it would be impossible to achieve at present. At the present time, the farmers must buy their superphosphate in the capital cities, and sell their wheat there. If they must buy in the city, at least they, should have one side of the deal, and sell their wheat at country, sidings at the stabilized price. That is the principal point in his amendment. It will aid decentralization and put this country on a better footing. The population of Melbourne is at present being retained in that city largely by what we might call the artificial growth of prosperity brought about by the expenditure of vast sums of deferred pay and other allowances by discharged members of the forces and by the wages of government officials em1 ployed in departments which impose restrictions that are hampering production. That artificial prosperity cannot last. Only when the representatives of the people legislate with the knowledge that the land is the true basis of prosperity shall we attain anything approaching security.

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