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Wednesday, 24 July 1946

Mr TURNBULL (WIMMERA, VICTORIA) . - It has been said that successful marketing is the satisfactory conclusion of the. work and management of the producer. It might also be said that the work and the management of the producer is necessary if we have anything to market. This bill is entitled, " A bill for an act to amend the Meat Export Control Act 1935-1938) and for. other purposes ". I suppose that meat is generally considered to be a beast after it has bren slaughtered, but this bill covers a wider field than meat itself. It covers a very wide field, because the policy of the Australian Meat Board, to be set up under this bill, may have. to do with the bleeding of fat stock. New Zealand has developed a fine export trade in fat. stock and Canterbury lamb is known nl] over the world, but Australia has not developed the same standard of efficiency 1J1 marketing as has New Zealand. I take it that I am in order in speaking about the breeding of live stock, because the policy of the board may encompass an incentive for that. It is very necessary that the men appointed to it shall know something about matters other than the export of meat, in order that they may devise a policy that will foster the breeding of the very best stock for the export trade. I therefore, support the contention of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron). The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) ought to have given some considera tion to the request, of the Australian Primary Producers Union that he receive a deputation in order that it might nominate for appointment to the Australian Meat Board a producer from its ranks. It must be apparent to all that the organization is not small. The Minister may -know that it claims to be the most properly federated body in Australia because it has a membership in four States of the Commonwealth. If the Minister delays meeting these people till after this bill has been passed they will -be denied the opportunity of having one of their nominees on the board on their behalf. I protest against the Minister's attitude. I know, many of them; a few of. them are my constituents. Many other members are in southern Victoria, but the membership is representative of four States. The men I know are engaged in raising fat lambs and cattle. They have been breeding stock for generations. It is because of their activities that we have such a well organized meat industry in Australia to-day.

Mr Dedman - How many members of that organization are in New South Wales?


Mr Dedman - Perhaps only a couple.

Mr TURNBULL (WIMMERA, VICTORIA) - I think the organization has a membership of about 10,000 and it covers four States of the Commonwealth. Amongst the" members are men of great influence in the meat industry who desire to submit to the Minister names of men whom they would like to be appointed to -the Meat Board! - I do not think that is too much to ask. It is an ordinary proposal. If the Minister did not approve of the men nominated, he could reject them. The organization wants the opportunity to submit a nomination because it represents the leading meat breeders and meat producers in Australia. Why should they -be debarred? The recent conference of the union in Geelong was one of the best conferences of primary producers ever held in Victoria. Even if most of the members come from Victoria, as implied by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), that does not detract from the worth of "their proposition. Of 3,336,766 carcasses of lamb exported in 1944-45, more than half or 1,862,586 came from Victoria. As regards mutton, of 450,218 carcasses, Victoria shipped 178,365. In the previous year, 1943-44, Victoria exported 2,306,392 lambs of a total of 4,013,027 exported from Australia, whilst it "exported 264,930 carcasses of mutton of an Australian total export of 519,920. Victoria by producing more than half of the fat lambs exported by Australia, is in an unassailable position in the Commonwealth fat-lamb trade. The trade must be fostered. It has been pointed out by sheepmen throughout Australia that it is necessary to export as many fat lambs as is possible. It is therefore necessary to breed the right class of lambs for export. We want to have people overseas ask for Australian lamb. The only way to achieve that is by exporting lamb of the right type. The combination of breeders, fatteners and exporters that makes up the membership of the union surely can ' produce an expert, who would bo an acquisition to the Meat Board.

Mr Scully - Would there not be experts in the other organizations?

Mr TURNBULL (WIMMERA, VICTORIA) - Certainly, but they can be considered too. The organization merely asked that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture should allow it to submit a nomination to him. The bill provides in several places that the Minister 'shall have the right to approve of not only nominations but also other aspects of the proposed meat board's activities. The only way in which they can place before the Minister arguments in favour of the appointment of their nominee is by a personal meeting with him. He has signified that he will meet them in his own good time. I would not object to that but for the fact that this bill is on its way through the Parliament, and, unless the Minister meets them soon, it will be too late for them to do anything to ensure that they shall have a say in the marketing of their products. That is unjust to the fat-lamb raiser, the pig raiser and the fatteners of stock generally, men who have been engaged in the meat industry for many years. I would not stress this matter ' so much but for the fact that a lot of honorable members have been thinking about this bill and about the men who should be on the Meat Board. There is a lot of difference about thinking' and knowing. I know that the organization ought to be represented on the board because I have been associated with the marketing of fat stock ali my life, with the exception of the six years that I was overseas. I have been associated with the meat industry, first as a producer and then as an auctioneer. In those capacities, one gains a valuable knowledge of the men who could best serve . Australia on the meat board. Therefore, I urge the Minister to re-examine this matter, and, if possible, interview in Canberra the representatives of the Primary Producers Union. If he is not impressed with their submissions, he will not accept them. But how can he reject their claims when he has not heard them advanced? That is why I make a plea on behalf of these men, many of whom I have known personally for fifteen or twenty years or even longer. They include the presidents and members of shire councils, and are men of honesty and integrity. Surely they are entitled to a hearing.

The proposed composition of the Australian Meat Board is not so satisfactory as is the composition of the New Zealand Meat Board, which consists of five representatives of the producers, two representatives of the. Government, one representative of the stock and station agents, and one representative of the dairy producers. The bill proposes that the Australian Meat Board shall include three representatives of the lamb producers. In view of the number of fat lambs that we export compared with mutton, that representation is inadequate. We cannot export large quantities of mutton on account of gland trouble, and for economic reasons. The export of fat lambs is most important to Australia. With the top-dressing of pastures in various parts of the country, we shall have more fat lambs for export, and the quantity of mutton exported will be .further reduced. We shall get the best values in the market which seeks lamb instead of mutton. Lamb is always preferred to mutton. Purchasers not only in Australia but also in other countries realize the importance of buying young meat. Whilst I contend that lamb producers should have increased representation on the Australian Meat Board, I agree that we should not deprive the mut-ton producers of the one member which they have been allotted.. The bill provides also that there shall be two members to represent the beef producers. Obviously, that number cannot be reduced. One member will represent the pig producers. I agree with that. But I do not agree with the proposal that two members should represent the meat exporting companies of Australia. Various sections of the meat trade should be allowed to submit to the Minister a panel of names from which their representatives will be selected. The names of the representatives of the meat exporting companies will be submitted by a group known as the "Big Three". I do not need to mention their names. Evidently, the claims of the small exporters for representation have been overlooked. They are not to have a voice. When I was an auctioneer at the Newmarket saleyards, I watched the market very closely for years. I am not boasting when I say that no other honorable member has had such a close experience of the marketing of stock as I have. For seventeen and a half years, I was a licensed auctioneer and for eight years of that period I sold stock at Newmarket. I missed only three sales.

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! That is a very good record, but it has nothing to do with the bill.

Mr TURNBULL (WIMMERA, VICTORIA) - As the result of attending that great selling centre, I learned that when the big exporters relax' on prices, the " mosquito brigade " consisting of 20 or 25 small 'exporters immediately came' into the market and maintained prices at a fair level.- Had it not been for their operations, the bottom would have fallen out of the fat lamb market. Individually, those operators do not export many lambs, but collectively they export large numbers. Why' should the big companies have the opportunity to submit for appointment to the board the names of two persons, whilst the comparatively large number of small exporters will be debarred from nominating a representative? That proposal is not in the best interests, of marketing in Australia. On many occasions, the Government has declared that it favours the small man. Therefore, the small mas in the meat trade should be given his chance. If he had been debarred from buying lambs for export and other purposes, the price of stock in Australia would not have been so stable as it was in the past. Naturally the large exporters - they can be counted on the fingers of one hand - could agree to let prices fall by three farthings or one penny per lb., perhaps more. But if they know that the moment prices begin to decline the " mosquito brigade " will purchase stock, they are not so likely to let the market fall. For those reasons, I am opposed to the big exporting companies having two representatives on the board.

Mr Calwell - Who stated that the big companies would have two representatives on the board?

Mr TURNBULL (WIMMERA, VICTORIA) - It is well known that they will. I contend that the small exporters should have the right to nominate a member. I am not opposed to the large exporters having a voice in an advisory capacity. Probably, they could shed light on certain matters which may be of great advantage to the trade. But the proposal to allow the big exporters, who are purchasers, a share of the control over the producers' stock while denying to the small butchers the same privilege is entirely unjust. The board should be under producercontrol and for that reason, I have emphasized the failure to allow the Primary Producers Union a representative.

I shall not refer at length to the power of veto, because other honorable members have already dealt effectively with that subject. In my opinion, the proposal is unjust. The chairman of the board should not be able to overrule the decision of the majority of members. So far as I am aware, the proposal is unique. Undoubtedly, the chairman should have a deliberative and a casting vote, but he should not be empowered to override the decisions of the board. Australia must make provision for the organized marketing of stock, but this bill will not achieve the best results. As I stated, the New Zealand meat board has definite advantages compared with the proposed Australian meat board. In addition, the New Zealand board has proved itself after years of trial,

Mr Calwell - A Labour government established it.

Mr TURNBULL (WIMMERA, VICTORIA) - I do not know whether a Labour government established the New Zealand board, but I shall support any proposal for the establishment of a board which will serve the best interests of the meat- producers of Australia. In entering my protest against certain portions of this bill, I voice the opinion of many primary producers. I consider that the appointment to the board of a man who is a breeder will have great advantages.

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