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Friday, 19 July 1946

Mr LEMMON (Forrest) .- Honorable members opposite either have not read the bill or have no realization of the meaning of responsible government and no knowledge of the Australian Constitution; because, if there is no board there will be no control of production or licensing. The Australian Country party proposes that that board shall be entirely abolished.

Mr McEwen - It does not.

Mr LEMMON - That would be impossible; in any case it would be most irresponsible. The effect would be to destroy the whole stabilization scheme. Each State is to be allotted a certain acreage; therefore, each must have a representative on the board to advocate its policy. As the honorable member for Indi (Mr. -McEwen) has said, being unable to examine the State legislation we are working to a degree in the dark, and can be guided only by what occurred when a board was previously constituted under National Security Regulations. On the State committee there will be a chairman, who will be the nominee of the State government and two growers. That policy was followed by the previous government, and was continued by this Government. One can only assume that a similar policy will be implemented in State legislation. The ultimate authority must rest with the Executive, which is responsible to this Parliament. That is democratic procedure. The assessment of the cost of production will be one of the most difficult matters that will have to be determined. The Gepp Commission, which cost £50,000, reported that some farmers could produce wheat at ls. Id. a. bushel, whereas the cost to other farmers waa 19s. lid. a bushel. Some of the costs at that time were much less than present-day costs.

Mr Archie Cameron - A similar range of costs will always be' found in any industry.

Mr LEMMON - That is true. But it is more pronounced in the wheat industry than in the dried fruits industry referred to by the honorable member. The most difficult problem of the wheatgrowers is that caused by seasonal variations. Such fluctuations are not so wide in the fruit-growing industry or in districts that are irrigated.

Mr Archie Cameron - Similar conditions would be more likely in the wool industry than in the dairying industry.

Mr LEMMON - The dairying industry is carried on in the surer rainfall areas. Fodder can be conserved to carry stock over dry periods. That may increase the cost of production, but a complete loss is not sustained. On a wheat farm, one season may produce a crop which returns an income of £2,000 or £3,000, and in the following year the income may drop to £500 while the expenses remain static. Admittedly, the farmer would not need so many hags, and the cost of his carting would not be so great, but the costs of kerosene, superphosphate, labour and interest would not be altered. This problem has to be overcome.

Mr Archie Cameron - The honorable member admits that the Opposition has a case.

Mr LEMMON - I admit that there must be a cost basis.

Mr MCEWEN - Then why not make provision for it in the bill?

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