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Tuesday, 23 July 1946

Mr BREEN (Calare) .- The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) has advanced reasons which, he claims, should induce the Minister -for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) to exclude the 1945-46 crop from' the provisions of this measure. One ' reason wai that when wheat-farmers fallowed for the 1945-46 crop, they undertook' commitments to business people, storekeepers, &c, and that as a consequence, they are in dire need of the full price realized for that wheat twelve months after it was harvested. But the export parity price ruling when fallowing for the 1944-4'S wheat crop was carried out was 6s. 5d. a bushel - it had risen sharply from January, 1944, when it was less than 5s. - so 63. 5d. should be acceptable. However, that is not the reason why honorable members opposite are protesting against the inclusion of the 1945-46 wheat crop in this scheme. Their object is to prevent the inauguration of any stabilization scheme that will give to the grower, over the years, all that his labour produces. They want to make the product of the wheat-farmer something on which they can gamble. I have listened to honorable members opposite criticizing certain individuals who have been accepted by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture as advisers, for which service they have been paid out-of-pocket expenses. Questions such as " Is he on the pay-roll ? have been asked. I am sure that not many honorable members opposite can live on their parliamentary allowances of £1,000 a year.Most of them have other interests, and I do not say that disparagingly. The point I wish to make is that the real reason for the opposition to this scheme and the criticism of this particular phase of it, is a desire to torpedoe the stabilizaiion plan altogether. However, the wheatfarmers are awake to that danger. The -following letter was sent to me by a wheatfarmer in my electorate, and has been published -

As a returned soldier from two world wars I have some knowledge of what we owe to Britain and the British.

When I find that we are selling wheat to Britain at 10s. 4d. per bushel, and when we know that the British are literally starving themselves to feed the rest of the world, I wonder if we realize just how much we owe to the people of that country?

We are selling wheat for milling at 5s. 2d. per bushel, and we are selling wheat for stock feed at 4s 6d. per bushel, but we demand the full export price when we sell wheat to the people in the United Kingdom.

I am a wheat-grower and I can find plenty to do with all the money I get, but Iwould be glad to take less for my crop if the British people were to get cheaper food.

A lower price to Britain could be partly balanced by a home-consumption price of 10s. 6d. per bushel.

I can visualize honorable members opposite saying to the people of this country, " "We intend to charge 10s. 6d. a bushel for wheat consumed in Australia so that we can sell wheat to Great Britain at 5s. 2d. a bushel ". It is not hard to imagine what the reply would be.

The letter continues -

As things are going now, it looks as if we should remove the kangaroo and the emu from our coat-of-arms and replace them with Ned Kelly and Shy lock, the notorious Jew.

That letter, written by Mr. K. T. Allen of Bob Roy, New SouthWales, is commented upon by "Peter Snodgrass" in the New South Wales Journal the Land as follows: -

People generally are not conscious of any responsibility in this matter. It is none of our business if the people in other parts of the world are starving, it is their business.

That is the attitude of honorable members opposite. They are concerned with only two things: First, they seek to make political capital out of the starvation of unfortunate people -overseas; and secondly, they want to torpedo a scheme which in the long run will mean the salvation of the wheat-grower.

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