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Tuesday, 23 July 1946


That the clause be postponed - as an instruction to the Government - to exclude the 1945-46 harvest from the charge.

We should place the spotlight on this clause, because it is necessary that the 1945-46 crop should be excluded from the scheme. This should be done in the interests of the wheat-growers and of many others whose interests are dependent on the well-being of the industry. It is essential that Australia should produce a.? much food as possible for the starving peoples overseas, to whom the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Breen) has feelingly referred. The Minister (Mr. Scully) and other honorable members opposite have stressed the fact that it is highly necessary that legislation similar to that passed by this Parliament with regard to the wheat industry should be enacted by the parliaments of the States. Of course, that is necessary if this legislation is to operate as desired, but there would be a far better chance of its acceptance by the State parliaments if this clause were eliminated. The wheat-growers generally are opposed to the plan, and that is due more to the inclusion of the 1945-46 crop than to any other feature of the bill. The growers have financial obligations which must be met to prevent them from becoming bankrupt. 1 am well acquainted with the position of the industry. The growers pre now in a far worse economic position than other primary producers. On occasions, Ministers have said in this Chamber that primary producers have been able to reduce their overdrafts by' millions of pounds, but the wheat-growers were not included. Ministers may have had in mind those engaged in the production of milk and butter, and in the stockfattening industry, but for many years the wheat-growers' have been in financial difficulties. Nobody knows that better than the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. It is more necessary now than ever before that the growers should get. the full benefit of improved prices, and therefore it is essential that the price obtain ed._, for the 1945-46 harvest should be made available to the industry Overseas experts have said that probably four or five years will elapse before the food position in Great Britain will become favorable.

Mr Frost - Rot!

Mr TURNBULL (WIMMERA, VICTORIA) - I do not wish to go wide of the mark,, but I think even you, Mr. Chairman, will admit that when the Minister .for Repatriation (Mr. Frost) interjected, " Rot ! ", he was himself a long way off the mark. Even school children know how scarce food is in Great Britain. People here who re=ceive letters from Great Britain know that never before in the history of that country have the people been so short of food. So great is the scarcity that it will take a long time to accumulate stocks again.

Mr Rosevear - Then why not - sell wheat to them at 5s. 2d. a bushel?

Mr TURNBULL (WIMMERA, VICTORIA) - With Great Britain it is not a matter of. money, but of getting the food there. If the growers received the full export price for the 1945-46 crop, they could, with the extra money, produce still more wheat. With it they could buy new machinery, or put into order machinery which has become unserviceable by many years of use. They would also be able to repair their fences. Perhaps not many honorable members here have travelled through the wheat lands, but I have travelled through them extensively and, as one who had not seen the country for years, I was amazed to note how the fences and other farm equipment had fallen' into disrepair.

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