Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 23 July 1946

Mr BREEN (Calare) .- The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) made a point which is overlooked by the contending factions in this game of " political wheat football ". Whilst the wheat-growers of ' Australia, and the farming community generally, aim at organization on the lines o:f the trade union movement they have not yet advanced to the position that the trade union movement reached at the beginning of this century. The group of farmers' organizations, such as the Farmers and Settlers Association of New South Wales, the Australian Wheat Growers Federation, the Wheat Growers Union and the Settlers Association of Queensland make extravagant claims that they speak on behalf of all the growers of a particular product. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) is then placed in a very invidious position in trying to obtain agreement among all the growers' organizations. As the honorable member for Barker pointed out, some of those organizations have political affiliations, either written or unwritten. On a contentious subject like the stabilization of wheat, particularly on the eve of an election, politics are introduced and1 the welfare of the producer tends to be overlooked. In my electorate, a clear division is approaching between farmers, not on the value of the stabilization scheme, but on whether the Australian Labour party is serving the best interests of the growers. That conditionof affairs is unfortunate because the growers are not sufficiently organized industrially to be able to risk a failure of their scheme of industrial organi zation by throwing it into the ring in' a political brawl. The farmers will come off worst. Throughout history, the food producers .have been at the mercy of speculators who, recognizing that people must have food, used great pressure to corner food, and then demand a price which they fix instead of allowing the law of supply and demand or the needs of the situation to determine it. In my opinion, the Minister acted wisely in requesting the Australian Agricultural Council to discuss wheat stabilization. The State Ministers for Agriculture and their staffs have a profound knowledge of our agricultural economy. They appreciate just how far the scheme is practicable and the extent to which the finances of the Commonwealth and the States are able to support a scheme that depends for its revenue upon export values. When the Labour party was in opposition, we criticized the government of the day for not paying what we considered to be adequate prices for wheat or wool. Now, honorable members opposite are in the role of critics of the Government. According to reliable estimates, 20,000,000 people in the world will die of starvation. In other countries, there is sufficient food to feed them. The problem is lack of means of distribution. Those facts should make honorable members think deeply about the subject of food, instead of introducing politics into a subject that means life or death to so many people.

Suggest corrections