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Friday, 19 July 1946

Mr BOWDEN (Gippsland) .- So far, I have refrained from engaging in the debate. I am prompted to enter it now because of the merit of the proposal to which support has been lent by many honorable members on this side of the House. I am astonished that the Minister should evade the issue. If I occupied the position that he holds, I would not shelter behind rules of procedure or standing orders, but would seize the opportunity to answer the vital question that has been raised. The proposal of the Government is to- stabilize the wheat industry for five years. It is conceivable that at the end of that period the stabilization fund may have to its credit as much as £50,000.000, or even £100,000,000. The proposal of the Opposition is that a record shall be kept of the contributions of all growers, so that, in the event of the liquidation of the fund, a proportion of the amount remaining in it after the deduction of administrative costs shall be paid to each contributor to it. The matter is of vital interest to the producers, and I cannot understand why the Minister wishes to evade the issue. In a few simple words he could satisfy the House that the Government has had the contingency in mind and is making provision to meet it; yet we have had nothing but silence from him-. Even though honorable members are not to be allowed to debate the amendment, they are entitled to know what will become of the stabilization fund should this scheme cease to function, and there had been no withdrawals from it to finance any crop. The question is one to which every wheatgrower in this country will demand an answer.

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