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Thursday, 18 July 1946

Mr BREEN (Calare) .- The rustic Bourbons opposite apparently have learned nothing and have forgotten nothing in the last three years. They forget the Dutch auction of their wheat policy at the last election - and their offer on that occasion was 2s. a bushel more than was provided in the Scully wheat plan yet they were "left with the goods ". The people would have none of their policy. They are now playing their old game, . forgetting the lessons of the past. Exactly the same state of affairs will prevail at the coming elections. This scheme and the whole of the price-fixing structure and the guarantee have been agreed to by farmers' representatives and by massed meetings of farmers, and the States have made themselves responsible for the implementation of the scheme. Accordingly, the attempts of honorable members to sabotage the plan at this stage will not succeed. We gladly accept their challenge. As the representative of a wheatgrowing constituency with a knowledge of the wishes of -the wheat-growers, I assure honorable members opposite that the growers want security not for to-day or for to-morrow or next year, but for a long period. They know that honorable members opposite who make specious promises had an opportunity to do something for them over the last ten years but failed lamentably to grasp the opportunity. When witnesses are so suspect as are our political opponents, we need have no fear that the farmers will again commission them to look after their interests in this Parliament and will endorse whole-heartedly what is proposed .in this bill.

Mr. ARCHIECAMERON (Barker) supporting this amendment. In my second-reading speech I indicated that I was a member of a' Government which was instrumental in obtaining the consent of the State Premiers to a sliding price of 3s. 4d. a bushel. It is true that I did not inquire why the government did not go on with the proposal after I had left the Ministry. Possibly, as has been, the case to-night in respect of the amendments moved by the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country party, the Government, acting on the advice of the Crown Law officers, finally rejected the proposal on the ground that it would increase the appropriation. Close examination of the wheat industry and -in fact of any primary industry forces us to recognize the fact that the circumstances prevailing under the licensed crop system are totally different from those prevailing under an open market system. Under the latter system a grower does what he likes with his land; it is his business to determine what area he will sow, whether he be engaged in the production of wheat, barley or oats. At present, however, he is restricted by other factors. When he is not subject to restriction he may enter other forms of production, hut usually being away from the large centres of population, only in competition with others who may be more favorably situated. The honorable member for Swan referred to the desirability of imposing a flat rail freight on superphosphates. He will find that a uniform rate has been imposed on the transport of superphosphates in New Zealand for many years. In South Australia a somewhat similar arrangement has been made, the difference in freights between haulage over 50 and 100 miles being negligible. The amendment should be accepted by . the Government. Having on one occasion been guilty of influencing a Premiers Conference to agree to such a proposal, I am in the happy position of being able to vote for it to-night. It was at one time the policy of the party with which I was associated, and I trust that before long it will be generally accepted, particularly while restrictions of acreage and control of the wheat industry remain the law of the land.

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