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Wednesday, 24 July 1946

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! The honorable member must confine himself to ihe bill.

Mr BOWDEN - If this measure becomes law the Minister will establish a board which will be presided over by a chairman of his own selection, who will be vested 'with power to circumvent a majority decision. This, in my opinion, savours of 'a Russian election in which, a voter has permission to do as he likes as long as he does as he is told. First, the Minister proposes to take to himself responsibility for the selection of the members of the board from nominees of bodies of which he himself has to approve, and then he immediately shows his lack of confidence in them by seeking authority to appoint his own chairman, in whom he proposes " to vest the power of veto. I am sorry to see such a principle introduced into legislation in this country. I trust that it will not. be repeated in any other measure. I am optimistic enough to hope that the Minister will see the merit of the protests voiced by the Opposition and amend that provision in the bill in accordance with their wishes. The honorable member has had sufficient experience of ministerial office to know that no responsible body of primary producers, whether it be selected by him or by the producers themselves, would take any action, make any motion or reach any resolution which would involve the Commonwealth in heavy expenditure without first obtaining the consent of the Minister or at least submitting the matter to the Treasurer for his views. If that be so, why vest in the chairman the power of veto? The Australian Primary Producers Union, which represents a very large number of small producers, rightly believes that this obnoxious provision should be removed, and I am still optimistic enough to hope that when the bill is in committee the Minister will concede this small point. The primary producers believe that the chairman should be a producer and should have a deliberative and a casting vote but no power to veto the majority decisions of the board. I trust that consideration will be given to this protest, because in other respects the bill has the approval of the primary producers and of honorable members generally.

Mr Lazzarini - The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that it represented an instalment of socialism. . .

Mr BOWDEN - It is necessary to establish boards of this kind in order to control the overseas marketing of our primary products. Whilst we agree with the bill in principle, we regard the proposal to vest in the chairman the power of veto as an affront to our democratic beliefs.

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