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Thursday, 18 July 1946

Mr McEWEN (Indi) .- In my struggles to obtain a higher price I do riot seem' to be enjoying much success; but my failure will not prevent me from trying again. - In view of the rulings which, the Chair has felt obliged to give on the advice of the Crown Law officers, which have prevented me from obtaining a division on the question of whether the price should be 5s. 2d. a growers' sidings or 5s. 2d. at ports - which as everyone knows would mean a difference to the grower . of about lid. a bushel - I am driven to adopt the only other procedural device I know, which will enable us to discover where the representatives of wheat-grower electorates in this chamber stand on this very controversial but important matter. In order to oblige the representatives of wheat-growing electorates to reveal where they stand I propose to .move that the clause be postponed as an instruction to the Government to recast it in such a way as to provide a price of 5s. 2d. a bushel bagged basis at sidings. That will enable us to discover the attitude not only of the Government - we know that in advance - but also of individual representatives of wheatgrowing constituencies. If the amend-, ment be carried it will have the effect of raising the price of wheat to 5s. 2d. a bushel at growers' sidings, but even if it is rejected it will at least reveal how representatives of wheat-growing electorates vote on this particularly vital issue. I point out to the Government and to representatives of the wheat-growing electorates that this amendment will not involve the Treasury in the expenditure of one additional penny in respect of the forthcoming crop. The bill will no doubt be passed in such a form as to ensure that every bushel of wheat sold in Australia, for whatever purpose it be used, shall realize 5s. 2d. on a ports basis. We know that on -a rising market for wheat the Australian Wheat Board's price to-day even to Unrra and the London Food Council is 10s. 4£d. f.o.b. and it is clear that realizations will go higher than 5s. 2d. at sidings, which is the equivalent of 6s. Id. at ports. Honorable members may accordingly rest assured that if they vote for the amendment the Treasury will not be involved in any way. It may however, ;do violence to the* principles of those who slavishly follow the dictates of caucus and of a party which is concerned more about the interests of the consumers than about the dues of the producers, and which obeys the dictates of outside authorities such as the Australasian Council of Trade Unions. In order to ascertain whether these outside authorities are the masters of members or whether members are more concerned with the interests of those who elected them to this chamber, I move -

That the clause be postponed.

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