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Wednesday, 24 July 1946

Mr BOWDEN (Gippsland) .- It is notable that no one has raised any serious objection to the purposes of this bill. This is due to the fact that, superficially at least, the bill provides for producercontrol of the meat export industry, and if the industry were really to be placed under- the control of the producers its interests would be adequately protected. However, I used the word " superficially " because I am convinced that the producers will, in fact, have no effective control at all. Their representatives on the Australian Meat Board are to be chosen by the Minister from a panel of names submitted by organizations approved by him. The Australian Meat Producers Union, ' a body with members in four States, is to have no representation on' the board, and the Minister, for some unexplained reason, refuses to meet the representatives of this organization. It may be news to the Minister to hear that it has more members than any other organization of meat producers in Australia. I do not suggest that the persons nominated by the bodies approved by the Minister will not perform their duties in the best interests of those whom they represent, insofar as they are allowed to do so under the restrictive provisions of this legislation. However, the great majority of meat producers in my district favour a system of selection similar to that, in operation in New Zealand. There the country is divided into regions, which have no geographical significance, but merely represent arbitrary divisions within each of which the meat producers elect a member to an electoral committee which, in turn, elects the producer-representatives who sit on the meat board. That system is favoured by the majority of small producers in this country, yet for some unexplained reason the Minister has refused point-blank to consider it. On behalf of unrepresented organizations, particularly the Australian Primary Producers Union, I protest against the obnoxious provision in clause 7, which proposes that the chairman nominated by the Government shall be vested with power to veto a majority decision- of his own board. This must be the first instalment of the new order about which we have heard so much. Undoubtedly the idea has been borrowed from the United Nations, for I know of no precedent in this country for its adoption. There may have been some merit in allowing the power of veto in the United Nations to what are known as the " Big Three ", because those nations would have to foot the bill- for arms equipment and men to back up any decision resulting from a majority vote of the minor nations. We know perfectly well, however, that the power of veto, which was intended to be used as a protection, is now used by certain members of the United Nations to further their '.own nationalistic aims, with the result that the power of veto, as we know only too well, has been brought into disrepute.

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