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Wednesday, 24 July 1946

Mr GUY (Wilmot) .- The purpose of the: Meat Export Control Bill is to reconstitute the ' Australian Meat Board with greater powers than' it possesses under the principal act. Indeed, its powers will be so great that it will almost entirely control the' meat industry of Australia. My remarks will be directed to the constitution and powers of the board and the power of veto reposed in the chairman, which will probably be exercised in collaboration with the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. I agree that the existing board, with its 21 members, may be somewhat unwieldy, but, as the law stands, each State is represented on it. The principal act provides that the board shall consist of one member in respect of each State to represent the stock producers of the State. Several other interests are represented. The size of that board may not be conducive to good business, but I do not agree that the proposed board should be composed on a production basis. In the production of lambs and cattle each State has its own problems and should have direct representation on the board. If that representation were granted it would not be necessary to enlarge the board. The Minister should divide the representation of the various sections of the meat industry between the representatives of the States. I have yet to learn of a board on which State representation has not been entirely satisfactory. The present proposal would allow the larger States to dominate the position, and that would lead to the development of a completely unsatisfactory and unjustifiable state of affairs. Tasmania does not produce so many lambs as some of the other States do, but it certainly produces lambs of high quality. It has been saidby those qualified to express an opinion that some of the best lambs grown . in Australia are grown in Tasmania..I am glad that the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) endorses that statement with his " Hear, hears ". The Tasmanian lamb is said to equal the famous Canterbury lamb of New Zealand.-

Mr McEwen - I consider that it is better.

Mr GUY - In Tasmania, there is ample opportunity to expand this vast industry. I believe that the production of fat lambs will increase considerably. Sooner or later, export quotas will be imposed. At the moment, that is not likely, but- I remind the House that in 1939, the United Kingdom was about to advise that only a prescribed quantity of lamb could be accepted. Only the outbreak of war saved the industry from a' severe setback. If, at some future date, export quotas be imposed, the less populous States will be at the mercy of the more populous States. The producers of the smaller States with 'their own peculiar problems, will be compelled to take the crumbs that fall from the table of the large producers in the larger States, who will dominate the position. I regret that the Government, in this bill, is pandering to the more populous States, which have the largest number of voters. At the appropriate time, I shall submit an amendment providing for the continuance of State representation, as on the original Australian Meat Board. In my opinion, that will not necessarily increase the personnel of the new board.

The bill provides that the . Australian Meat Board shall have power, on behalf of the Commonwealth and subject to any directions of the Minister-

(i)   to purchase any - meat, meat product or edible offal;

(ii)   to sell any meat, meat product or edible offal; or

(   iii ) to manage and control all. matters connected with the handling, storage, protection, treatment, transfer and shipment of any meat, meat product or edible offal purchased by the Commonwealth.

The House will agree that thosepowers are very extensive, especially when the board does not represent meat producers throughout the Commonwealth. - This is evidence of socialist control. The- chairman of the board will have almost dictatorial powers. I warn the Minister that the power of veto has caused many international headaches recently, and that the power of veto which will be vested in the chairman of the Australian Meat Board ' will cause many headaches in the meat industry. That the chairman of the board will possess dictatorial powers is proved by proposed new sub-section 5a of section 10 of the principal act -

If the person presiding at a meeting of the Board dissents from any decision of the Board, signifies at the meeting to the other members present in person his intention to bring his dissent to the notice of the Minister and,within twenty-four hours after the close of the meeting, transmits to the Minister notice of his dissent together with full particulars of the decision, effect shall not he given to the decision unless the Minister approves of the decision (whether with or without variation) and, if the Minister approves of the decision subject to a variation, the decision so approved shall be deemed to be the decision of the Board.'

Therefore, what purports to be the decision of the board may, in reality, be the decision of the Minister. I believe in producer control, but this bill does not provide for it.

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